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REPORTING · 4th March 2013
Walter McFarlane
Pat Mouland, a Grade 2/3 teacher at Nechako Elementary School got up at the regular meeting of Council on Monday, February 18th with several members of her class to make a request of Council for a Trail Rider. The children took turns speaking.

“We are trying to raise money for a trail rider. This is something where people use to go hiking in the spring summer and fall. It was made so people who have wheel chairs or difficulty walking long distances can still use the trails,” said Rachel Riggs.

Lena Arllt-Dufresne explained it requires teamwork to use. People pull from the front and push from the back. “We already use this team work when we go hiking with our class in the winter. Chloe’s [Harwood] one of our team members and her mom bought a great sled and we are able to use on our class hikes in the snow,” said Lena.

Chloe told the Council when her class helps her along the trails around Kitimat, including Pine Creek, Nechako Forest and Hirsch Creek Park. She told Council it makes her feel free, because sometimes, her wheelchair makes her feel like a burden.

Mallory Scrivens stated it makes them feel good to help her because they do not want to go hiking without other members of their team.

This led to the decision for the class to raise the money for the trail rider so both Chloe and other members of the community can use it. They are working hard to raise the $7000 expense.

All of the children told Council what they were doing to raise funds in unison. They have written businesses, holding an Avon fundraiser, a school bake school and have teamed up with KCH students to sell hot dogs at Overwaitea.

“We are wondering if you also want to help us with this project, you can make a donation towards it, help us with funding a place to store it and figuring out a way for other people in Kitimat and Kitamaat Village to get it to take on their hiking if they need it,” stated Lena

They thanked Council for listening to them. Mayor Joanne Monaghan wanted to know if it was for adults or children or if it could support both. Mouland told her there was a seat so it was adaptable for both children and adults.

“We’ve had a tremendous amount of support from our community and outside of our community for this project so it just goes to show us there’s a real need for adaptive equipment for our youth and our adults in this community. We’ve actually gone beyond this and we’d like to continue to raise funds beyond our initial $7000 goal so we set up an endowment fund through Kitimat community foundation with a focus on adaptive sports equipment and this would allow us to purchase additional sports equipment based on what people’s needs are for mobility issues,” said Mouland.

She stated this would allow the students to have fundraisers every year and participate in the decision making which would allow them to look beyond their own needs and wants and be a part of developing compassion for others.

She hoped the Council would team up with them and provide financial support for this project and help find a location where it can be used by all members of the community.

Councillor Rob Goffinet thanked the girls for the presentation, telling them they spoke clearly and loudly. “I think your teacher is very, very proud of you. I would be,” said Goffinet.

Councillor Mario Feldhoff made a motion to approve $5000 towards the purchase of a trail rider and other equipment promoting physical activity for community use, and for the leisure service department to work with the applicants for the purchase of the trail rider and arrange storage and community access for it.

Feldhoff was quick to point out the recreation programs offered by the District of Kitimat and how they have worked to make their programs accessible. “Here we have a group that is actively fundraising and they need a little bit of assistance. If we assist them with $5000, not only will we be helping out a grade 2/3 class, we will be helping out the community in future years. This goes beyond our typical grant request,” said Feldhoff.

He said that because the trail rider will be used by the people of Kitimat, they should invest more than the typical grant.

Goffinet agreed because they are not stopping at the trail rider, but are also planning to fund raise for equipment for physical activities to be used by persons with mobility issues. He suggested a friendly amendment to assist them with other fundraising as well. It was taken as a friendly amendment.

The motion to fund the $5000 was called and carried.