A program supporting local vulnerable youth is getting a boost thanks to a generous $75,000 donation from the Delta-based Harlow and Mary Ann Burrows Family Foundation.
Since February 2019, the Take a Hike Foundation has run its namesake mental health and emotional well-being program at North Delta’s Delview Secondary.
Take a Hike uses the outdoors and adventure to engage vulnerable youth in school, community and intensive clinical counselling, empowering them to change the trajectory of their lives. Through the full-time program, youth develop the skills and resilience they need to graduate high school, build healthy relationships, and achieve success — however they define it.
This year, the program is providing support to 18 youth and their families.
The Burrows family’s recent $75,000 donation, the largest Take a Hike has received to date in support of it’s Delta program, follows another $30,000 gift from the family in March.
“We discovered the work that Take a Hike does to re-engage some of the most vulnerable youth in Delta in school and mental health supports, a cause that’s very important to us. We knew that we needed to support and help sustain the program,” Mary Ann Burrows said last spring.
Burrows, an author and illustrator who has published two children’s books focused on mental well-being (Oh, Monkey and Gator On My Back), started the Harlow and Mary Ann Burrows Family Foundation with her husband, Harlow, in 2007. Board members include Marisa Doolan and retired police Const. Sean Doolan, a former school liaison officer with the Delta Police Department who has previously worked directly with Take a Hike school district champions and staff.
Take a Hike Foundation CEO Gordon Matchett said the Harlow and Mary Ann Burrows Family Foundation’s support for the program is making a big impact in the lives of vulnerable youth in Delta, as school connectedness is the number one determinant of youth mental health.
“This year especially, when young people with existing mental health issues are experiencing the impacts of the pandemic more than most, inspiring acts of generosity from our community mean vulnerable youth will receive the support they need to get through this challenging time,” Matchett said in a press release.
According to a press release from the foundation, Take a Hike is one of the few programs in the province with full-time early intervention and prevention mental health supports embedded in a classroom setting, supporting youth to overcome obstacles to their academic and personal success. The release notes the program has a 93-per cent graduation rate.
Since the pandemic arrived in March, Take a Hike has seen an increase in demand for the mental health and well-being supports it provides in schools across B.C. In response to COVID-19, the foundation has moved its mental health program completely online, allowing it to not only continue to help the 130 vulnerable youth and their families it supports across the province, but also expand its services to provide an additional 600 counselling sessions for 180 more youth and their families, including Take a Hike alumni and other youth and families referred by school district partners.
For more on Take a Hike, visit takeahikefoundation.org.