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Christine Devries’ Story:

Off the streets and on the mountain

Reprinted with permission from 2010 Legacies Now

After bouncing from home to home in foster care for 10 years, Christine Devries was one step away from living on the streets of Vancouver. That is, until Chill stepped in. Chill is a six-week program for at-risk youth which teaches snowboarding along with patience, courage, respect and other valuable life lessons.

Chill photo

“I knew how to snowboard before I went to Chill, but Chill made me better,” said Devries.
It was while participating in Chill that Christine heard about Zero Ceiling, another snowboarding program funded in part by 2010 Legacies Now. Like Chill, Zero Ceiling offers snowboarding day trips, but also trains at-risk youth to be snowboard instructors. Operating in Whistler, Zero Ceiling trains the youth to teach snowboarding to others, offers them full-time employment, and provides housing at a reduced rate. Christine jumped at the chance to join the program and get her life on track. In one short year, she went from the streets of Vancouver to living and working in Whistler.

“I love it in here in Whistler. I live a pretty sweet life now,” said Devries. “I now work as a house advisor as well. I let tenants in when they lock themselves out and help with conflicts – I’m sort of a peer counsellor.”

Having completed her first year as a snowboard instructor, Christine is looking forward to returning for a second season. She is also making plans for the future.
“Next year, I’m going to school in Vancouver to be a child and youth care counsellor. Teaching has given me the confidence to do this,” said Devries. “And then I want to come back here to Whistler and be a youth worker and snowboard instructor.

Update July 2009:

Christine worked two seasons as a snowboard instructor and resident house advisor at Whistler. Now a mother, she volunteers at the Broadway Youth Resource Centre teaching a parenting program and supporting a girls group. She credits the Chill and Zero Ceiling programs with teaching her patience – something she needs daily as a youth worker and young mother. When her son is older, she plans to attend Douglas College to study counselling. But she says she hasn’t left the slopes behind, “I’m still stuck on snowboarding – I’m not letting that go!”

Chill was a snowboarding program for inner-city youth designed to increase self-esteem and positive self-image, which 2010 Legacies Now operated in BC from 2005 to 2008. The program was sponsored by Bell and the Province of British Columbia, with support from Cypress Mountain and Tabor Mountain. Funding was also contributed by the Vancouver Agreement.

© 2010 Legacies Now Society

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