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Meet the Runner : Emily Lloyd

September 27, 2016 Leave a comment

September 26, 2016

“My other teachers never really took the time to get to know me,” Emily Lloyd, a grade 10 student at the Streetfront Alternative Program told me after school on Friday. “They taught you but if you didn’t understand or get it, they moved on and just left me.  Streetfront’s  totally different. They take the time to always help. And not just school stuff but personal stuff and stuff with family. “
emilyEmily is a remarkable kid. Looking at her, you always get the impression she is about to tell you a very funny joke!

I’m  sitting beside her in Streetfront’s classroom, with images of Lou Reed, John Carlos and Tommie Smith, John Coltrane, Mark Rothko and Patti Smith on the walls.   I can’t help but get the feeling that she needs to unload some personal things.

As I start to ask her questions, her eyes light up and she starts telling me her story. She can’t keep pace with the things she wants to get out. Stories of sadness and disappointment start to unfold. Tales of her feeling insecure and anxious at school, always doubting her abilities become a constant thread.

“When I got to high school things started to really go bad,” she comments. “I never felt happy there. I was in a few classes I shouldn’t have been in and then, with my other courses, I couldn’t get the help I needed to understand the work. Because I wasn’t doing so well in school, I started to avoid those classes. Now I was skipping school and doing things that definitely weren’t making me feel very good about myself. I needed a change. My friend Sierra started attending Streetfront and all she could say was how awesome it was. She was attending 100% of the time, getting good grades and even running marathons!!! I couldn’t believe it. I begged my mom for a whole month, everyday pleading to let me go to Streetfront. She finally said yes and it’s been the best decision of my life.”
Emily joined Streetfront in April 2016 and within weeks her life started going in a positive direction.   “I fit in instantly. The kids and staff encouraged me and made me feel welcome.

Trevor teaches in a totally different way. He makes  learning fun, always entertaining us even though he is actually teaching us.”

Emily quickly adapted to the unique curriculum at Streetfront. “I used to play all kinds of sports but that had fallen off. Once I got to Streetfront, all those good memories and experiences I had had with sports, returned.” She wasn’t so sure about their vaunted running program, “At the start,  running was really hard. I was barely making the 5 k’s but I stuck with it. I then moved to 7’s and then 10’s. Trevor ran with me on my 10’s and he knew how to keep me motivated. He talked and talked and then before I knew what had happened, we were done.”

Emily continued with her run progression, culminating with a Streetfront mainstay – the 18.7 km Deep Cove run. “I was so nervous before we left for Deep Cove.  I had only been at Streetfront for a little over a month and now I was trying to run to Deep Cove. I was really scared crossing the Second Narrows Bridge.  It’s so high. But we kept on running and at about 15 km we saw Barry with the bus. We ran over got some water and that really helped motivate me. The rest was easy.”

Emily was preparing for her real goal of running the BMO Vancouver Half-Marathon in early June. She was plagued with self-doubt early in the race. “I started panicking at 3 km. I was bawling and convincing myself I couldn’t do this. Trevor ran with me and kept telling me to breathe and relax. He convinced me that if I took control of my breathing, I’d be able to do this. He actually was pretty tough on me. He told me I had worked too hard to give up. He said that I’d have to face my classmates as one of only 2 kids to have never finished a race. He convinced me that trying was everything and failing was not an option.”  Emily fought through the inner demons and started to feel strong. “Trevor had to stay with another girl while she used the washroom. He told me to run ahead and never get off the course. He said he’d catch up with me in one or two kilometres .”

Stokes thought he’d quickly see Emily a few 100 metres ahead. When he resumed running, Emily was nowhere in sight.

He started panicking himself, “I stated texting Gord (Streetfront counsellor) and Sierra trying to see if they had heard from Emily. I was convinced something had happened. She either had dropped out, got off the course or was in need of medical attention.”  Stokes kept running for the next 14 km trying to track Emily down. When he hit the Burrard Bridge (2.3 km from the finish) he caught up to Emily. Stokes was in disbelief, “Emily was in absolute control. She was not concerned or anxious at all!!!  She was running with confidence.  In fact she was doing so well, she called her aunt and convinced her to skip out of work and join her mom at the finish line.”emily-mum
Emily describes the moment she crossed the finish line as the “best feeling in my life”. The Streetfront staff speak often of a photo Stokes took of Emily and her mom, “We’ve been doing this so long and for 8-10 years we’d cross the finish line and there wouldn’t be a single parent there celebrating with their kids. But that has started to change and the embrace captured between Emily and her mom was so pure, so tender. It was absolutely perfect and exactly what Emily needed in her life.”
Emily will finish her Grade 10 year with Streetfront and plans to run the Seattle Half in November and then take on the BMO Full in May 2017. That will finish off a remarkable year considering she’s dead set on being selected as one of the 15 students to go to Patagonia, Chile with the Street2Peak Project in March 2017.
“I don’t ever want to leave Streetfront. I’m trying to convince them to go to Grade 12,” Emily laughs. As our conversation ends it’s hard not to think she just might be able to convince them.

Meet the Runner : Cody Price

September 18, 2016 Leave a comment

By Eleanor Boyle, contributing writer

Cody Price comes across as quiet and a little shy, so you wouldn’t know to meet him that he competes in marathons and plays a leadership role in the running program at his school.  But Cody is one of the impressive students at Streetfront, the alternative Vancouver high school program that supplements academic learning with demanding athletic pursuits.

Cody agreed to be interviewed for Meet the Runner, and chatted with me over sushi on Commercial Drive recently.  It was almost a month before the start of the school year, but Cody was already in preparation and running regularly on his own.  “I love track and love running,” Cody said.  From a young age and through MacDonald elementary school in Grandview Woodland, Cody played a lot of sports including soccer, basketball and track.  So he was identified as a good candidate for Streetfront, and started there two years ago.

cody-1-photoThe long-distance races started when Cody was just in Grade Eight, and joined the Streetfront group to travel south of the border for the annual Seattle Full and Half Marathon.  It was his first time outside Canada, and there he was at the start-line surrounded by thousands of people all challenging themselves just like he was.  “It was an amazing experience,” he said.  “It was a blessing for me.”

Since then he has completed three full marathons and two halfs.  He credits Streetfront and its staff who devote themselves to giving academic, athletic and personal guidance to young people having trouble in regular school.  Referring to head teacher Trevor Stokes, along with Gord Howey and Barry Skillin, he calls them “outstanding.”  They’ve “gotten my through a lot.”   He’s now better able to cope with personal situations, and has become more social, enjoying meeting new people and hearing their stories. “The care that I get from that school is amazing.”

Running has helped him develop discipline.  “’Cause you’re running and wanting to stop,” says Cody, “but Trevor’s there behind you.  He’ll give you breaks, but will talk you through it.  It’s an awesome experience.”

Knowing that some Streetfront students had never run before, and that marathons are long and difficult, I asked Cody whether they’re allowed to slow down and walk during races.  “Yes, you can walk,” said Cody.  “If you feel like you need to walk, there’s a reason, and that’s okay.  All Trevor says is:  Do not stop.”  Once you’ve got forward momentum, do not slow down so much that you actually come to a standstill.  Starting again will be too hard.

At Streetfront, Cody has also been developing leadership skills.   It started when he noticed that Trevor was overly busy trying to assist runners during races and training.  So Cody offered to help.  Now, especially with new students, Cody keeps an eye on them.  “I’m one of Trevor’s runners who, on a marathon or a regular run, will take a person and say, ‘Trevor, you don’t need to worry about him.  I’ll make sure these guys are running with me.  I’ll make sure they’re OK.’  I’ll be Trevor’s helper.  So he can stay in the back with other people.”

Trevor emphasized this to me, in an email, saying:  “Cody is my right hand man in terms of the running program. He understands the psychology of what a new runner is going through. He’s been there hundreds of times and knows exactly what that kid needs to hear or sometimes, more importantly, what they don’t want to hear. His willingness to sacrifice his own training for the benefit of other less experienced runners has always impressed me.”

Cody is also hiking in preparation for Streetfront’s next big mountain ascent — part of a bold and innovative program called Street2Peak — which will take them to Patagonia in South America next spring.

Outside school Cody likes to listen to music, especially to artists and songs with poetic lyrics.  He lives with his mother, and says he has frequent contact with his father, as well as also having a mentor through Big Brothers.  Cody likes to be an independent thinker, for example where social media is concerned.  Though he made arrangements via text to meet me, he doesn’t like to spend too much time in the digital world.  “I like personal connections,” he told me.  “Not so much social media. I don’t have instagram or snapchat.  I can’t just sit there, on a device that’s doing everything for me.  I want to do stuff on my own.”

Cody is a key part of the team at Streetfront. When he has extra time or is bored during lunch break, he’ll suggest to a few friends that they go for another run.  As Trevor says:  “Cody quite often is my student spokesperson. Whether I ask or not, Cody always makes himself available to help.  His generous and genuine appreciation for the running program and Streetfront always fills me with pride.  Cody has faced so many obstacles in his life but doesn’t let those get him down.  Instead, he shows up on time ready to do the work that is needed.  He needs us and we need kids like him.  That combination of dedication and commitment is what makes Cody such a wonderful kid.”

Meet the Runner : Harmony Satori

September 18, 2016 Leave a comment

July 292016  /  By Eleanor Boyle, contributing writer

Two years ago, teenager Harmony Satori was aimless, skipping school, doing drugs, and having trouble imagining a positive future for herself.  Then she found herself beginning her Grade 10 year at Streetfront, an alternative program at Britannia High School in Vancouver, that helps young people build skills and confidence through physical activities. 
Today, at 16, Harmony has run two half-marathons, is a straight-A student, and feels like a different person.  “I really went low for the first two years of high school,” she said in an interview.  “Some people still judge me on that.  But it’s not who I am anymore.”  
harmony-2
The story of Harmony is about a personal journey but it’s also about Streetfront, an ambitious alternative high school program.  Headed by a team including teacher Trevor Stokes, Streetfront gives students regular academic courses but also an intensified physical education curriculum including camping, hiking, and high-endurance experiences like running marathons and climbing mountains.  For Harmony, these difficult tasks have been a route to restored self-esteem and to seeing herself as an accomplished person.  
Born in Vancouver as Harmony Patterson, though she uses her middle name Satori, she experienced frequent disruptions to the family and moved several times to different communities and new high schools.  Gradually Harmony started skipping classes and hanging out with other troubled, at-risk kids.  In the summer of 2015, at the concerned insistence of her mother Andi and step-parent Dani, Harmony attended a recovery-based day treatment program for youth run by Watariwhich Harmony reflects on as an experience that helped her envision her potential.   
But when it came to attending Streetfront, the teenager objected.  “I was reluctant and resistant to going at first.  I was upset that it wasn’t my choice.”  As well, she didn’t like running.  She was not athletically-oriented, and had never played sports.   
But after a short time at Streetfrontshe found regular running calming as well as strengthening “both physically and mentally.”  At Streetfront, she and other students ran three times a week, for almost an hour but each at their own pace.  Her first runs were 3 km, progressing into 5 km, 7 km, 10 km, then her first ‘Deep Cove Run’ of 18 km.  Now after one year at Streetfront, she credits it for achievements she otherwise would never have attempted.  Like her first half-marathon, the BMO event on May 1, 2016, when she ran even faster than expected, then another half-marathon on June 30.   
Then there are the mountains.  Streetfront created a program called Street2Peak, taking inner city youth internationally to climb mountains. Training recently for a 2017 trip to Patagonia, Chile, Harmony at least once told herself that she couldn’t finish and didn’t want to do this anymore.  But she found a way to finish the training hike, and says she’s glad. 
Harmony has learned to show up and try something out even if she’s not sure she’ll ‘like’ it.  “It’s good,” she observes, because I end up in a lot of activities that I never would otherwise.  And sometimes you realize you enjoy them.  It’s inspiring.”
Doing these things is stressful.  But when you finish, you’ve accomplished it.   And you carry that with you.  Twenty years from now I’ll be saying ‘I ran a marathon!’”
Next year Harmony will attend Total Education for Grade 11, since Streetfront is for grades 8 – 10 only She plans to stay connected with Streetfront my entire life.”  This coming November she’ll join them in another half marathon in Seattle, then plans to run her first full marathon next spring in Vancouver.  
But she doesn’t think she’ll be running forever.  Harmony has other passions including for art, especially drawing, and hopes to attend Emily Carr to study art and design.  In other areas of life, she has recently earned her Learner’s permit to drive.  She has a job at Cineplex in International Village, will also work at the PNE this summer, and is proud that she is earning and saving money.  “My life is really going forward.”  
She calls Trevor Stokes “probably the best teacher I’ve ever had.  He’s a really amazing person” who runs with the kids, talks with them, and really gets to know them.  She also credits additional staff members Gord Howey and Barry Skillin for their expertise and support.  “I’m so glad I got to spend even a year at Streetfront.  It’s changed my life.”  
Harmony wants people to know that anyone can do the things she does if they put their minds to it.  “Even if someone has told you that you can’t do something, you can.  People are scared or embarrassed to ask for help.  I was too.  But if you push yourself, you can do anything.”

10th Annual SHLF run fast approaching

September 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Please consider joining us for this great annual run. This year will be the first year that ALL monies raised comes to Streetfront. If you can’t make the run consider making a donation in support of our students and our Street2Peak Project.

 

http://shlf.cmail20.com/t/ViewEmail/r/216E29BC2BEF85342540EF23F30FEDED

Categories: Blog, Running

Scotiabank Vancouver Half Marathon completed!

June 27, 2016 1 comment

It was a dark week for Britannia Secondary, considering the speculation of a possible closure but this Sunday the Streetfront Alternative Program decided to focus on what we do best, getting kids to find the strength and determination to show the world how great they really are.

Thanks to all 29 kids who once again demonstrated the greatness of youth. Thanks to all of the parents who showed their kids that they are worth getting up early on a Sunday to cheer on.
Who couldn’t love this job????????????

Indian Arm Canoe Trip – May 30 – June 2, 2016

For our final camp trip of the year we headed over to Indian Arm to canoe the fjord for four days. We had great weather for most of the trip, lots of black flies in the Bishop Creek campsite, seen lots of wildlife, had the wind and tide in our favour and not so much other days, seen many waterfalls, had lots of fun and stored more good memories in our heads. Overall we covered 40+ km’s from our departure point in Deep Cove to Indian River at the end of the Arm.

A very pleasurable trip indeed…

Street2Peak Project 2017 Destination Announcement

We are very happy to announce that we have finalized our next Street2Peak trek for March 2017… Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile!!

http://www.internationaltravellermag.com/2-hike-in-torres-del-paine-national-park-patagonia/

The iconic Torres del Paine. Photo from internationaltravellermag.com

Torres del Paine was voted the fifth most beautiful place in the world by National Geographic. Torres del Paine, and the whole Chilean Patagonia region for that matter, is a dramatic landscape of granite spires and sharp-edged mountain ranges that rise out of plains, emerald green lakes and accented with glaciers.

We will backpack self-guided over 75 km’s of Torres del Paine extensive trail system utilizing campsites and refugios (mountain huts) along the way. We are so excited to have chosen Patagonia as our next trek to expose our youth to the incredible beauty of people and places of this world.

Stayed tune for more details about this trip and our fundraising efforts to make this trip a reality.

Another Successful Marathon

Hey Streetfront Supporters,

The first Sunday in May is always a special time at Streetfront. Seasons have changed, the school year is dwindling and kids are all the more excited about life. The first Sunday in May also brings us the Vancouver Marathon, a mainstay in Streetfront’s calendar.

We’ve been training since the Seattle Marathon in late November for this day. Kids have logged hundred’s of kilometres, battled their resolve and will to train, fought with the mental side of long distance running and persevered through the personal and social struggles that are part of being a kid from this part of town.

I expanded the marathon program this year to include Britannia Secondary kids. A Britannia Run Club was borne and from it a beautiful cohort of like-minded kids, showed up every Tuesday and Thursday to train for 3 events: (1) an introductory 3 km race sponsored so brilliantly by Lara Penno and her crew from the BMO Vancouver Marathon, (2) the 10 km Sun Run and then culminating with (3) either the half or full Vancouver Marathon. My hope was to allow more students to be a part of this very special group of former and current Streetfront students. Let the main school kids see a totally different side of these alternative kids – maybe kids they formerly judged. Grant them a chance to do something that almost nobody their age can do. Give them a chance to show, through their merits, that they are as worthy as anyone.

We met most of the kids on Friday at 3 pm to discuss our plan for the weekend. We go over all the basic rules of the race (number one rule: DON’T EVER GET OFF THE COURSE TILL I FIND YOU) and try to allay their fears and trepidations. We then meet on Saturday night at the Streetfront portable for a huge feast. By 9:30 pm, we had over 25 kids eating pizza and chicken wings (don’t judge the training methods), sharing past marathon stories, imparting wisdom to the newcomers and maybe best of all, being kids. The party starts to break down around 11 and now it’s time to get to bed. Every kid gets their tatoo on their forearm (my cell number in case something goes screwy), puts their running gear in their specified spot and hopes to sleep a deep sleep and gain as much strength as they can.

Morning comes faster than they can believe an the HALFS are up by 5:30 am, trying to consume as many calories as possible. The anxiety is palpable. Checking and double-checking all their gear is the norm. Watching what someone else does and see if that should apply to you. Barry arrives with the bus and before you know it we have 17 students buckling up their seat belts and staring that million mile stare into the darkened streets of Vancouver. We arrive at the start, have a group chat and cheer and then it’s all up to them. I’ll bring up the rear and pick up anyone who falters but nobody falters. The race is done before we start. Every kid determined to finish and to hold that glinting medal up to their eyes just a few feet past the finish line.

Barry then drives back to the portable. Gord and Brandon Steele have been waking the FULLS and force-feeding as much food into them as possible. The portable looks like Best Buy at the end of Boxing Day. As the clock continues to move, they now get on the bus at 7:45 am and head to the same start line. We have to take the 21 passenger bus plus my 7 seat van to get all the runners there. When we do our final head check we have 25 athletes ready to knock off the 42.2 km marathon course. 25!!!!!!!! Everyone of them knows this race is going to bust them up. Everyone of them knows, there will be painful and debilitating stretches. Everyone of them knows that someone will be there to pick them up. Everyone knows that we don’t leave anyone behind. Everyone knows we won’t stop and we can’t stop. By the time Raymond King finishes (his 13th marathon with us, and who will also be graduating from Langara University this year) nearly 6 hours after the start of the race, all 25 have crossed the finish line. Brandon Steele will have finished the race probably 6 times because as soon as he gets one group of kids across, he backtracks to find the next group of kids, then brings them in. We’ll meet at the Olympic Torch (a very conscious decision) and commiserate and then take the photo that will become part of our lore. A place and time will be frozen for each of these kids. Disbelief in their eyes and wonder in their thoughts. We will bring it in for one final cheer and explain to them all what they mean to us and how proud we are of them. After the cheer fades, we will separate and each struggle to get home. The body will be sore but the kid is soaring, just looking for someone he or she knows, so they can tell them their story from today. Those stories are more important than anything. They are the reason we do what we do.

Thanks goes out to Barry Skillin and Gord Howey, who put in so much extra time to make everything at Streetfront go so well. “They are gold, Jerry, gold!!!!” Big shout out to Brandon Steele who joined our team about 5 years ago and has never said no to any request. A massive thank you to Lara Penno and the Vancouver International Marathon Society who have been beyond generous in their support and dedication to making this all happen. It would not have been possible without Lara and her crew’s support. Thanks aplenty to Crystal Li for being our female chaperone on the sleepover and all around fantastic volunteer. Huge thanks to Vanda Borean and her team at Rackets and Runners who supplied every runner with a brand new pair of beautiful running shoes. And a huge thanks to all of you for your support over the years.

And now introducing the 2016 Vancouver Half and Full Marathon Team. Too many kids to name but look at their faces. Those are champions.

Thanks,
Trevor

ps – Theo ran his 2nd full marathon. Quite a kid!

Garden Time April 25th

April 26, 2016 Leave a comment

Another day in the garden found us checking on the herbs. We picked some and added them to a mason jar and topped up with vinegar for a future salad from the garden. After that we turned some of the compost and weeded two plots ready to grow another seasons bounty.

Categories: Blog, Garden Project

Volunteering for the afternoon

This afternoon we volunteered with the Vancouver International Marathon Society helping un-box the medals for this years BMO Vancouver Marathon – May 1st. Our students were so efficient in their task that we got what formally took 2 afternoon’s to complete to getting it all done in 2 hours! Nice work Streetfront.

Thanks to the Vancouver International Marathon Society for their continued support of our students. See you less than a month.

Categories: Blog, Marathon