Bruce Trail Expedition “walks the talk”
School program engages Catholic students in social action and conservation
It’s happy trails for Hamilton businessmen and adventure seekers Peter Turkstra, Fred Losani, Mark MacLennan and Steve Stipsits who, starting on Monday, September 24th, will set out on their month-long Bruce Trail Expedition for Kids in support of school nutrition programs.
The hikers trail blazed their way into history in 2006 with their “Top of the World” Expedition and again in December 2008 with their South Pole Expedition which together raised more than $1-million for children’s charities, including nutrition and art programs at Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic schools. This time, the men will tackle the 900 km Bruce Trail to raise funds for city kids while increasing awareness of the Bruce Trail, Canada's oldest and longest footpath which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The four men – along with Finnish outdoor sportsman Teemu Lakkasuo – hope to complete the challenging hike in 30 days.
Students from the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board will meet up with the hikers at Mount Mary Retreat Centre in Ancaster on Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 12 noon for an official kick off of the Bruce Trail Expedition school program, an interactive Web 2.0 tool that connects different aspects of the expedition to the elementary and secondary school curriculum. The program enables students to interact with and follow the hikers through Twitter, Skype, satellite phone-ins and map tracking, as well as link to resources, learn about one of the world’s largest natural biospheres, and engage in social action through a sticker fundraising campaign.
The website was developed by Teacher-Librarian Peter Burns using the Ontario Library Association’s guided inquiry model to expand children’s learning. A message board allows students to post messages, ask questions, share ideas, and make personal connections to the hikers and the expedition.
The program resonates with students on many levels, says Ed Bradica, Principal at St. Michael Catholic Elementary School. “Not only does it raise awareness of the Bruce Trail, but it focuses on Catholic faith teachings around social justice and stewardship of Creation.”
A sticker campaign will provide students with an opportunity to put their faith into action by donating loonies to the Hamilton Community Foundation’s Bruce Trail Expedition for Kids Fund.
“It’s not just the ‘what’,” says Assistant Superintendent of Education Morris Hucal, “it’s the ‘why’. The ‘why’ is this Bruce Trail Expedition. We want kids to understand that this is first and foremost a social justice project.”
Peter Turkstra, who has undertaken two previous expeditions on behalf of local charities, says the take-away from the Bruce Trail hike is that it teaches children to care about other children.
More than 300 students (5 from each elementary and 10 from each secondary school) will be bussed to Mount Mary Retreat Centre at 437 Wilson Street, Ancaster where they will walk a portion of the Bruce Trail, participate in a Gallery Walk of school eco exhibits, and enjoy a litterless lunch before formal ceremonies get underway. A prayer liturgy at 12:00 pm will be followed by an eco celebration to recognize the June 2012 Ontario EcoSchool certification of all Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic schools – only the second time a school board in Ontario has achieved such a distinction. Then at 12:20, Peter Turkstra, Fred Losani, Mark MacLennan and Teemu Lakkasuo will join the group for an ‘eco’ pep rally.
“On behalf of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board, I want to congratulate and thank Peter, Fred, Mark, Steve and Teemu for their important work on behalf of, and their service to the community,” says Chairperson Patrick J. Daly.
“The Bruce Trail Expedition for Kids is a wonderful opportunity for our students to learn about one of our country’s greatest natural treasures and contribute in a meaningful way to improving the lives of children in our community.”
For more information, please visit http://brucetrailforkids.caVisit - The Buzz Board