The Provincial Capital Commission welcomed the 25,000th youth brought to the provincial capital with financial assistance under its travel funding program during a celebration on the steps of B.C.’s Parliament buildings June 22.
Twenty Grade 4 to 7 students from Lac La Hache Elementary School took home a special memory a couple of weeks ago following an educational field trip to Victoria where they toured the legislature and enjoyed area attractions and activities.
After emerging from a tour of the legislative buildings, the surprised kids were treated to cake cut by the Hon. Ida Chong, minister of community, sport and cultural development and minister responsible for the provincial capital commission, to celebrate that 25,000 young people have travelled to Victoria since the funding program began five years ago.
In welcoming the Lac La Hache group, Chong noted the importance of engaging young people in learning about government and taking pride in the province’s legislative buildings. “And we hope your visit here will inspire you to learn more about your Capital and your province,” she said.
Since the PCC’s Capital for Kids program began five years ago, school students and youth involved in service organizations have visited Victoria to tour the legislative buildings, often meeting their MLA, and to learn about government and the province’s rich history, heritage and culture represented in the capital city.
“The youth come from across the province — from major urban centers and from smaller and isolated communities,” said Bill Wellburn, chair of the Provincial Capital Commission. “This educational field trip experience provides a lifelong memory for these youth, many of whom have never before travelled away from their communities.
“Teachers tell us time and again how their students experience numerous firsts on their trips and how much the children learned about the history, geography and cultural diversity of their province and their Capital city,” Wellburn said. “We know from teachers that seeing and experiencing first-hand is the best method of learning.”
Lac La Hache Elementary School principal Steve Carpenter agrees. “Any experiential type of learning makes an amazing difference,” he said. “Nothing beats hands-on, physically touching and being there.”
After reading about renowned architect Francis Rattenbury, the kids were “amazed” to see the legislative buildings and the Empress Hotel first hand, he said.
Enroute to Victoria, the group visited Alexandria Bridge, the Vancouver Police Museum, Stanley Park and Vancouver Aquarium. In the capital, they toured the Inner Harbour, took in a show at IMAX, and went to the Bug Zoo and the Royal BC Museum. They also took a ghostly walking tour, learning about B.C.’s past and ended their trip with a whale watching expedition.
And the teachers and students received a gold star from the legislative building tour guide and the PCC staff for doing their homework and answering most of the questions during their tour. “We’ve been studying up,” laughed Carpenter. Using the PCC’s online social studies unit, the students each chose a subject to research and then presented their findings to the class.
In addition to the PCC funding, the small Cariboo school of only 39 students had to fundraise for the trip including hosting a ham dinner auction that brought in $6,000. “It is a small tight-knit community of about 500 people, but it was so important to get that extra funding from the Provincial Capital Commission.”
Whether visiting students walk through Canada’s oldest Chinatown, picnic beneath the totems at Thunderbird Park, or are amazed at the collections within the Royal BC Museum, they take home an important sense of what their capital city means.
The Provincial Capital Commission is a self-sustaining Crown agency with a mandate to “connect and celebrate the Capital with all British Columbians. Since 2006, the PCC has committed more than $1 million towards the Capital for Kids program, touching 25,000 young British Columbians from 550 groups representing 105 B.C. communities. The Capital for Kids program is funded by revenue generated from several properties the commission owns in Greater Victoria.