Red Fox Healthy Living Society participants Karmpreet Brar

Summer in the city

Red Fox Healthy Living Society connects inner-city and aboriginal youth with physical fitness and other positive activities

Spread out around the playground at Lena Shaw Elementary in North Surrey, a large group of children climb equipment and socialize with friends on the swing set.

“Who wants to be the energizer?” asks Suki Chhoeun, a program manager with Red Fox Healthy Living Society.

“Can you do it louder this time? We need lots of energy, is that cool? I couldn’t hear you last time so you need to be louder this time.”

Chhoeun is leading a group of youth mentors as they get ready to coordinate a cluster of kids in a summer camp run by YMCA of Greater Vancouver. The goal is the get the young participants excited about getting physically fit.

Within minutes, the group assembles in a large circle on the field and begins to organize a game of tag.

Before explaining the rules of the game, a young leader from Red Fox speaks to the children about the importance of respect and to recognize the traditional First Nations territory they are playing on and to give thanks.

Once the rules are explained, the game begins and the kids are off wildly chasing each other around the field.

The youth mentors from Red Fox are part of a program designed to give elementary school-age youth active play programs to keep fit and healthy, while at the same time, offering teens employment, life skills training and leadership experience through work and mentorship opportunities.

By partnering with YMCA camps for the summer, the youth leaders gain valuable mentoring skills they can use with students throughout the year at various Surrey schools.

The program, which focuses on inner-city schools, has been running in various communities throughout the Lower Mainland and in Surrey since 2015, involving as many as 15,000 students across Metro Vancouver.

Although targeted at aboriginal youth, the program is open to all students throughout the district.

For youth leaders Bob Muskego and Violet Nelson, the program has helped them gain confidence and set goals for the future.

“I was really shy before I joined Red Fox,” said Muskego, 19, who is finishing his Grade 12 at City Central Learning Centre this fall. “I never really had programs like this when I was in school, so I feel like I’m giving these kids something more than I had, and now I would like to go to college as well.”

For Nelson, it was a teacher at Frank Hurt Secondary who recommended the program to the quiet teen.

“I didn’t talk to people,” said Nelson, 16, of her confidence level before she became involved. “I would just stand off to the side, and now I’m feeling much more comfortable and the kids are actually coming up to me to ask me questions.”

She plans to become a paramedic after graduation.

For Chhoeun, the program uses play and mentorship to give many aboriginal youth a belief in themselves.

“The key is to put our youth in a mentorship role and have the confidence to believe they can make a difference in society and that they are valued,” she said.

For more information, go to redfoxsociety.org

Just Posted

Out with a roar: Dinosaurs take over forest at Surrey school on last week of class

Six colourful creatures painted by Grade 3 students led youngsters on an expedition in the outdoor classroom

South Surrey burn survivor shares ‘worst’ experience

Manpreet Braich suffered second- and third-degree burns in 2013

Animal advocates yowl after Delta cat severely injured in trap

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

‘The Last Straw’: Cloverdale-Langley City MP wants zero plastic waste by 2030

John Aldag tabled report on plastic pollution in the House of Commons last week

Five Surrey players to hit ice at Brick Invitational hockey tournament

Prestigious atom-level event runs July 1-7 in Edmonton

VIDEO: Stop-motion artist recreates Kawhi Leonard’s famous buzzer-beater

It took Jared Jacobs about 40 hours to make the video, on top of the research

Two helicopters reportedly seized by RCMP near U.S. border south of Cultus Lake

Federal Mounties mum on raid two weeks after dramatic raid reported by Columbia Valley residents

Man shot dead in Vancouver’s fifth homicide of 2019

Body was found in an apartment near Main Street and East 35 Avenue

Abbotsford council declines to declare climate emergency

Mayor says city is working to reduce emissions, but that procedures preclude immediate action

Rock slide in B.C. river may hinder salmon passage

DFO says it is aware that the slide occurred in a narrow portion of the Fraser River

Four-hour tarmac delay violates charter rights of Canadians with a disability: lawsuit

Bob Brown says new rules reduce the distance he can travel by air without putting his health at risk

Fate of accused in Canadian couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Most Read