The Chilliwack Center of Excellence organizes kayak lessons for elementary school students – Chilliwack Progress


Elementary school students who might never have tried paddling are trying their hand at it with the help of the Chilliwack Center of Excellence (CCE). The local canoe club recently received a Jumpstart grant and used the money for kayaking lessons for 114 children.

The majority are 4th and 5th graders from Central Elementary in downtown Chilliwack.

“For many of our students, learning to kayak would not be an accessible sport/activity due to cost, transportation and accessibility,” physical education teacher Ileana Graham wrote in a “statement of impact” on the lessons. “Many of our students have never been in a boat or in open water, other than the recreational pool.”

Some of the paddling was done on Cultus Lake. On Tuesdays and Wednesdays, students walk 15 minutes to Hope Slough, where the lesson counts as their PE class.

“The impact of those kayaking lessons was profound,” Graham said. “Students of all levels participate. It promotes competence, inclusiveness and trust.

“The subject of kayaking and exploring the quagmire became an ongoing discussion with the students over the weeks. The opportunity was an eye opener for our students and a fascinating experience.

CCE Vice-Chair Colleen Christensen said the club were delighted to offer the opportunity.

“It was a joy to receive such a large sum of money from Jumpstart and to organize something so meaningful,” she said. “It’s great to find ways to contribute to our community. It makes us really happy to know that the children enjoyed playing and learning outside.

Founded in 2005, Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart program helps children overcome financial and accessibility barriers to sport and recreation.

The CCE used a community development grant.

According to the Jumpstart website, it is intended to “help organizations develop or maintain sports and recreation programs for children ages 4-18 with financial needs and youth with disabilities ages 4-25.”

For more information on Jumpstart, visit

For more information on the Chilliwack Center of Excellence, visit

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