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Seattle Marathon Training Run

November 1, 2016 Leave a comment

We know a marathon is close when we have a number of current and past Streetfront students running the almost 19 km route to Deep Cove, North Vancouver. Plans are afoot for this years Seattle Marathon on November 27th, 2016!

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Meet the Runner: Sierra Sidwell

October 4, 2016 Leave a comment

October 3, 2016

Being a kid is tough. It always has been. Sierra Sidwell, a grade 10 student at the Streetfront Alternative Program knows all about that.

Sierra’s sitting behind the Streetfront portable, on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon. The garden is starting to fade into its fall colours. The sunflowers are starting to droop and the tomato plants are drying up. She came to Streetfront half way through last school year. She was kicked out of her last school for skipping school and past suspensions. She had little interest in applying herself. She felt school for her was a lost cause, “I started waking up at 9, 10 maybe even noon. I didn’t care that I was skipping those classes. I wasn’t getting out of them anyways. I was so unhappy and unmotivated.  It was better for me not to be at school, even though I knew that wasn’t a good decision for my future.”

Sierra speaks about her dissatisfaction with that time in her life with such clarity and thoughtfulness. She tells a story of a young woman whose identity was slowly eroding from her. “I had to hide who I really was. The person I am wasn’t welcomed in my previous school. If I were to survive, I would have had to totally hide my personality. Eventually, I started hiding my personality even from myself. That’s when I knew I was getting into something really deep and I needed to make a big change,” Sierra explains as the sun starts to tilt towards the west.

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Moving schools is a traumatic event in a teenager’s life. Life is so precious when you are a teenager. Every move seems magnified beyond belief. Things are so intense and personal. Sierra’s impending move to Streetfront was met with extreme trepidation. Like so many other students, Sierra thought going to an alternative program was a definite step down, “I thought an alternative program was either for really bad kids or kids who weren’t smart enough for regular high school. If I went to Streetfront, what were my friends going to think?”

Sierra attended Strathcona Elementary and a few Strath kids were attending Streetfront, so that first day was a bit softer than she expected. “I was totally nervous, but I thought that if I could just find those kids I already knew, maybe I’d fit in better,” Sierra comments. Things turned out better than she ever expected, “I never thought I’d be accepted so quickly. Literally, after the first couple of hours I felt like I could relax and actually be the person I am.” Her eyes are darting all over the place as she tells me more, “I didn’t have to plan on how I’d play my entire day out. Before, I had to think about every move and calculate this interaction and how I was going to talk to this person. At Streetfront, I knew I’d be accepted and appreciated for who I was.”

Sierra never expected the runs to become such an integral part of her life. “I can honestly say I never believed I would love running so much. At my old school I don’t think I did a single lap of our school run without stopping,” Sierra recalls. “I heard the other kids say how easy running gets and how much they get out of it, but I kind of thought that was bull. But once I finished my first 10 km (on her 1st run), something was different. It was hard but I was so proud of myself. I ran basically 10’s ever since and I love how the runs make me feel. I’m totally zenned out when I run, it’s just myself and my thoughts.”

Sierra credits the running program with giving her goals and aspirations that were never present in her life before. “The Vancouver Half-Marathon was my initial goal. I trained really hard but I was so nervous before the race. I got to the start line and started believing that I was in over my head. What got me through was that they kept telling me I was tough enough to do it and I trusted them,” reminisces Sierra. “Once I was on the course, I’ve never felt more in control.  At 2 km I knew I was going to finish. In some ways it was the easiest run I’ve ever had,” beams Sierra.

Sierra credits the drive and commitment she’s learned at Streetfront with changing other parts of her life, “I really started doing well in class. I think my final report card was almost all high B’s with some A’s. I also went out and got a job at Tacofino. I’ve been working there for 5 months now. I also attended every single Street2Peak training hike this summer. Sometimes I had to just stay awake all night just to make sure I never missed the hike.  I can’t believe I go to a school where if I do my part and work really hard, I get to go to Patagonia.  Who get’s to do that? If I was at my old school, I might’ve got to Science World,” laughs Sierra.

Sierra is adamant that she will follow Jesse Costucci-Phillips lead and become only the second Streetfront female student to run a full marathon. “There’s no way I’m not going to run the full in Seattle.  It’s a done deal.  I am more focused on that goal than anything I’ve ever done,” admits Sierra with a big, confident smile.

As you can tell, Sierra is an impressive kid. I believe that she will accomplish all of her goals.  As her story unfolds, I sit back and think, “As glad as she is that she found Streetfront, I’m pretty sure Streetfront is probably even more grateful she and others like her, came to their school.”

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Meet the Runner : Abdi Ahmed

September 18, 2016 Leave a comment

September 162016

Abdi Ahmed is an easy kid to like. You see his smile before you see anything else. Always happy and always inviting you into his life, Abdi is an amazing and resilient young man.

Abdi was born in war-torn Ethiopia. His family was able to flee the conflict and arrive in Canada in 2011. First arriving in a transition house for refugees and then moving out to Surrey. The family then relocated to Strathcona’s Raymur Projects, where so many Britannia families have started to build a bright and prosperous future for their families.

abdi_cropAbdi came to Streetfront at the start of the 2015-2016 school year. Abdi had struggled both academically and behaviourally in grade 8 and 9 at Britannia and was hoping to find a different school setting and a new start.  He found that at Streetfront. As he said while I was talking to him over lunch on a Friday afternoon, “Streetfront offered me everything I wanted in a school. Trevor teaches in a different way.  He makes it so easy to learn. The staff helps you with personal stuff. They don’t let you get away with anything. I was failing most of my classes. By the end of the school year I was getting B’s and a few A’s.”

Abdi quickly assumed a leadership role at Streetfront. He took this role very seriously, always modeling the behavior the younger students needed to see.  Within a week, he became the defacto captain of Streetfront’s internationally recognized marathon team. Throughout the school year, regardless of the weather or the ailments that befall a long-distance runner, Abdi hammered the pavement, never wavering in his commitment. “I didn’t like the runs at the start but I wanted to prove that I could run 10 km every time. After a few weeks,  I started to like the runs. Then I started to need the runs. If we ever missed a run, I’d ask Trevor if I could run on my own. I think I ran over 700 kms last year. I’m really proud of that.”  Pretty amazing for a 16 year old kid whose only been in Canada for 5 years.

Abdi ran the Seattle and Vancouver Marathons last school year, plus the Scotiabank Half-Marathon in June 2016.  The Seattle Marathon was special for Abdi because it took an amazing effort by Barry Skillin and Gord Howey to navigate the visas and identification requirements to get Abdi into the United States.  It took over 4 hours to make it happen, but for a kid like Abdi, it was obviously worth it.

After Abdi’s great year at Streetfront, he felt confident enough to return to Britannia for grade 11. Trevor Stokes knew it was the right decision, “I think it was exactly what Abdi needed. After his year with Streetfront, his confidence was booming and he started to believe he had the skills to make it in the main school.  Going back and showing everyone how much he’d grown, was the logical next step.”

Abdi plans on continuing to run with Streetfront and is training diligently to land a spot on their Street2Peak Patagonia Team, which will be heading to Chile in March 2017.  “I never thought you could go to a school and have so many opportunities. Going to Chile, who would ever think a kid from here could go and do that?  I think that’s pretty awesome.”  Asking the staff at Streetfront about Abdi, its quick to find out that they think he’s pretty awesome as well.

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.”

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????????????

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!

Deep Cove Training Run

November 5, 2015 Leave a comment

We had 16 youth (of a possible 28 for the Seattle Marathon) running the 19 km Deep Cove route today – and in record time too! Well done gang!

Pre-run group shot

Pre-run group shot

Post-run group shot finding them still looking fresh.

Post-run group shot finding them still looking fresh.

Strachan Hartley Legacy Foundation Run – Oct. 18, 2015

October 19, 2015 Leave a comment

Today Streetfront students (current and former), staff, family and friends participated in the annual Strachan Hartley Legacy Foundation run. SHLF is our single biggest financial supporter of Streetfront and we always look forward to their 5 km and 10 km fundraising run. If you want to support a Foundation that supports youth through sports then ple

ase consider a donation at http://shlf.ca/