Two years ago, I approached the Vancouver Sun’s Adopt-a-School (AAS) program requesting $26,500 – the amount needed to provide bus passes to 50 students throughout the 10 months of the school year. The good folks at AAS were nearly knocked off their feet by the request, but vowed to keep trying for us. Today, Translink has officially announced a pilot program to provide passes and tickets to schools in impoverished neighbourhoods.
Most students who attend Britannia live within walking distance of the school, but it is not an easy walk. It is a walk that leads them past drug dealers and prostitutes, through dark projects and dangerous streets, and a one that causes the students and their parents endless concern. Safety is always on their minds, and it affects their decisions about whether to attend early morning practices, off-timetable courses or Homework Club, to get help with their studies. For others, it affects even whether or not they will attend school. A half hour walk, in the pouring rain, without a coat or umbrella, means a whole day spent sitting in damp clothes. Many of our students simply choose to stay home rather than spend a day miserable and cold. It’s hard to blame them.
While we won’t be receiving the $26,500 we asked for two years ago, we will be able to serve a great number of students through a mix of bus passes and single ride tickets, and we are excited start the new year on such a positive note!