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Chilcotin area school wins award for efforts to engage local seniors, community

‘We take advantage of the wisdom and knowledge of our community members’: Tatla Lake principal
Tatla Lake Elementary and Junior Secondary School Grade 1 student Hayden Forsythe chats with local senior Peter Shaughnessy during a community connections day at the school. (Photo submitted)

A school in the Cariboo Chilcotin has received a Legion Golden Star Award from the British Columbia Retired Teachers’ Association for its efforts to interact with and learn from local seniors .

Tatla Lake Elementary and Jr. Secondary School principal Kim Ikebuchi said the award includes $1,500 which will be used to further learning workshops with community members and the students by covering the costs of supplies so volunteers are not out of pocket.

Ikebuchi initially learned of the award through a pamphlet she received at the school. The more she thought about it, she decided because of the school’s community connections program where seniors come into the school to interact with students one-on-one, give workshops or discuss topics, the school might be eligible to win so she applied.

“We have taken advantage of the wisdom and knowledge of local people in this area,” she said.

While seniors and local residents are coming into the school to share with the students, there have been many incidents where the students have gone into the community.

The students did a community clean up, volunteered at the Tatlayoko Field Station putting up bluebird boxes, made cookies at Christmas to be included in food hampers, peeled 50 pounds of potatoes and carrots to make pies to serve at a community dinner, and pulled weeds in June prior to the Tatla Lake Gymkhana, to name a few activities.

Family nurse practitioner Patrice Gordon participated in a commemorative Remembrance Day ceremony and the students made valentines and postcards for peace to send to veterans.

“Our West Chilcotin Health Association has been advocating for a new clinic and our students wrote letters to Interior Health advocating for one,” Ikebuchi said.

She said the students were quite insightful, suggesting the need for more privacy in the new clinic, a counselling space and a fitness space.

Tatla Lake area has an aging population.

Ikebuchi said by being involved the students see what it takes to put on events behind the scenes and may be encouraged to step up to the plate when they are older community members.

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Monica Lamb-Yorski

About the Author: Monica Lamb-Yorski

A B.C. gal, I was born in Alert Bay, raised in Nelson, graduated from the University of Winnipeg, and wrote my first-ever article for the Prince Rupert Daily News.
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