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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.”  
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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.”