The Kitasoo community school is raising money to send students on a trip to visit universities in Vancouver and Nanaimo.

The school is sending 11 of its 40 students on the trip to gain experience of what a BC university is like. In May, the group is scheduled to visit UBC, SFU, and VIU over a nine-day trip.

Junior high school teacher Kathryn Ovenell-Carter said the students are really excited. “Living somewhere so remote, this is a great opportunity for the kids to experience things others take for granted.”

“Kids in small communities have extra barriers when it comes to university, like culture shock.”

She said this is a chance for them to see something different. “This will give them a better sense of what a university campus is like outside of what they see in movies.”

Ovenell-Carter said that because they live in such a remote area, going to university doesn’t seem like a real option.

“Bringing these kids to the universities makes it easier for them to imagine going there. We bring the younger kids as well to help get them excited about university. We want them to at least know they have the option.”

The school launched a GoFundMe campaign on January 10 with hopes to raise $10.5k and cover the bare minimum for the trip. As of writing, they have raised over half the funds.

“We are a 12-hour ferry ride from Port Hardy,” said Ovenell-Carter. “The travel and accommodations for this trip is expensive.”

“We are lucky to have such a supportive community,” she said. “People here have been very generous, even the ones with no ties to the school.”

Ovenell-Carter said that the students have been excited by the support they have gained: “They get really excited when they see people they have never met before or who are not from the community donating online.”

“The kids constantly ask questions about what university is like. They ask if you make new friends there, and if you get to choose what you study. Basketball is a huge thing for many of the kids out here. They were surprised to find out they could go to university and play basketball.”

A big lesson for the students in raising the money for this trip is the hard work and commitment they have to put into the fundraising.

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“It’s good for kids to work towards something big like this,” Ovenell-Carter said, “I remember big trips like this being quite formative at this age.”

While spending four days in Vancouver, and two in Nanaimo, the group hopes to go to the Vancouver Aquarium as well as the space museum. They also hope to go to a movie at a theatre, an opportunity they don’t usually have.

“We are really excited to go to VIU. They have customized the tour for us a bit so we get to see a larger range of study than usual. It will be good for them to get the opportunity to talk to current students and get firsthand experience.”

The school used to do trips like this before, but hasn’t in the last couple years. With the embracement from the community and the recent progress of fundraising, she said the kids have even changed the way they talk about university.

“They talk about university now as a ‘when I go to university’ scenario.”

Some of the kids have messages posted on the GoFundMe page telling people why they want to go.

A grade eight student said, “The trip is important to me because we never do any big trips and this is our chance. It would give me an idea of what university I would like to go to. It would also be a lot of fun because in Vancouver we are going to Stanley Park, the Aquarium, and maybe a movie…”

For more information, or if you want to donate, visit the Kitasoo GoFundMe page.

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