Background

In 2001, the Northeast Kings Education Centre (NKEC) opened in Canning. NKEC is a grades 6 – 12 school with a population of approximately 1000 students. A small community in itself, the school believes in developing a learning environment that nurtures each student’s academic, physical, social, and emotional growth. Students who attend the school come from many different areas of Kings County, such as Kentville, Scott’s Bay, Halls Harbour, Kingsport, Canning, Baxter’s Harbour, Canard, Centreville, Aldershot, and many other small communities.

 

Being located in a rural community, the school has worked to develop strategies to improve their offerings. They have been able to provide a wide variety of programs, after school activities, and offsite pursuits to enhance the students’ learning and personal development. One of the ways that NKEC has been able to achieve these results has been because of their School Mini-Bus.

 

In 2001, when NKEC opened, the school (through significant fundraising) purchased a new Mini-Bus to use to support the many programs it offers. They did this because the school is located in an area of low density land use which makes it more difficult for transit, active transportation, and ridesharing strategies to succeed. Over the past 15 years, hundreds of our young people have been provided the keys to a successful future. This Mini-Bus has allowed activities and educational opportunities to be as widely available to many of the young people in the community as possible, and has ensured that students have access to a first rate education regardless of their financial background.

 

Over the past number of years, the Mini-Bus has been used for many activities and outings:

 

  • Taking International and Local students on cultural outings to obtain an appreciation of the culture, history, and society that we live in;
  • Taking students with special needs to their work placements and other activities like the Tim Hortons Camp;
  • Taking middle school students on “exploratories” where students are exposed to new skills and activities;
  • Taking individuals, teams or spectators to Sporting events;
  • Taking students on field trips that are part of the educational curriculum;
  • Taking students to local sites and to other provinces to experience new cultures and expose the students to service learning opportunities to better develop civic responsibility;
  • Driving students home once afterschool activities are complete.

Objective

Currently, the school has a Mini-Bus that was purchased when the school first opened back in 2001. As the bus is now fifteen years old, the school has begun to see their maintenance costs on the bus rise significantly. This, in turn, has resulted in higher costs for those who use the bus. And, although the Mini-Bus has been able to assist in providing wonderful and meaningful experiences to many students who have come through our doors over the last number of years, we have been unable to provide all students with these opportunities. There is no wheelchair accessibility on the current Mini-Bus, nor are there any seatbelts for students. The school would like to sell the current Mini-Bus and replace it with a new wheelchair accessible bus that has seatbelts for all the students so that, moving forward, every student can be afforded the same opportunities to succeed.

 

Replacement of the current mini-bus

Providing students adequate transportation is the biggest obstacle our school faces – both from the perspective of getting students home when they stay after school, as well as travelling to other locations throughout the day or on overnight trips. Parents often lack the time, a car, or enough money for gasoline to make the long trip to the school to pick up their children. When 1 in 4 children live in poverty (24.4%) in Kentville, which is higher than the provincial average, the school needs to ensure that as many opportunities as possible are provided to these students - including after-school programs that offer nutritious snacks. (https://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publications/Nova%20Scotia%20Office/2014/11/2014_NS_Child_Poverty_Report_Card.pdf)

 

Outside of the Village of Canning, and even on many roads within Canning where NKEC is located, there are no sidewalks. There are winding roads with no sides, no painted lines, and most students in the rural areas live on a major collector – such as Highway 358 or Highway 221. This makes it extremely dangerous to have students walk home and means that walking/active transportation is not possible – especially if a student lives in Kentville almost 15 km away! Transportation must be provided right to the door.   

The isolation of rural communities can make transportation to and from out of school programs a costly and time intensive prospect. It is a huge barrier. The rural area where our school is located does not have a public transportation system available that is similar to the Kings Transit bus system that operates along Highway 1 through Kings County. Therefore, the school has had to develop new strategies to overcome these transportation difficulties while all the while adhering to the many Annapolis Valley Regional School Board (AVRSB) policies surrounding the issue of transportation (for instance, all bus drivers must be AVRSB employees, and all passengers on the bus must be AVRSB students).

 

 

 

Benefits

The new wheelchair accessible Mini-Bus will be a valuable asset and offer tremendous benefits. Some of these are listed below:

 

  • Allow ALL students EQUAL access to the many benefits of out of school/off site activities and opens up new opportunities for those who are socio-economically disadvantaged;
  • Support students in their studies and enrichment activities;
  • Enhance learning and personal development;
  • Provide social and cultural opportunities to enrich students’ quality of life that may otherwise be restricted due to transportation issues;
  • Assist staff to continue their valuable work with students with disabilities, including regular transport to work programs;
  •  Wheelchairs will be able to travel on the Mini-Bus thereby ensuring that students with disabilities have equal opportunities;
  • Provide International students an opportunity to visit new places in the community at large to ensure a comprehensive cultural experience;
  • Allow students to easily visit new places, take part in community activities, and benefit from the cultural heritage of the area;
  • Provide improved travel options for a small rural community;
  • The Mini-Bus will be able to be used in the summer by other groups, such as the Canning & District Recreation Commission.

Transportation to allow students to come home from school at a later time than the normal bus run also allows students to take advantage of afterschool programs. Without this transportation to get the students home, it would be extremely difficult for the students to take part in these programs. Some benefits follow:

 

  • Expanded learning programs offered as an afterschool activity provide a safe place with caring adults for children who witness violence or drug and alcohol abuse in their homes;
  • The afterschool learning programs help students academically because some parents don’t have the educational background needed to assist with homework;
  • Afterschool learning programs are places where children practice skills and, in our rural area, they may be the only chance children have to develop friendships outside of the structured school day;
  • Afterschool programs also offer opportunities to provide students nutritional snacks that some parents may not be able to afford; while at the same time keeping the students physically active and/or learning new skills.

A high quality education program can promote rural economic development and build the leadership potential of rural residents. With such high stakes for our rural community, and our children, we cannot afford to ignore the need for an Accessible Mini-Bus so that students can participate and be provided every opportunity to ensure that they can succeed.

 

Donations

If you are interested in a charitable receipt, please make a cheque out to Annapolis Valley School Board Foundation c/o NKEC Bus Project and drop it off or mail it to Northeast Kings Education Centre, 1816 Bains Rd, Canning NS, B0P1H0. If you prefer to make an online donation please go to nkecminibus.myevent.com to make a donation using a credit card. Thank you for your interest and support!

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March Break Trip 2018

Grand Tour of Italy March Break 2018. 

Please contact: fpriddle@gnspes.ca for more information.

 

For full details please check out: http://www.eftours.ca/tour-website/1986394js