In 1999, (25 years ago??? really!), then Executive Director Cheeying Ho hired me to develop and launch a Secondary School Vehicle-Trip Reduction Program for BEST (Better Environmentally Sound Transportation).
What evolved was a student leadership program called off ramp - where groups of 5 to 7 students in a high school were coached (i.e. trained and supported) to build their skills in assessing baseline conditions at their school before creating events and campaigns to increase the number of their peers walking, cycling, taking transit and carpooling.
off rampers - we want to hear from you!
In the first two years, 62 student leaders from nine secondary schools across Vancouver and Victoria promoted sustainable transportation messages to 12,000 teachers and students. On-site school meetings and collective workshops were designed to build group cohesion and while sharpening the student leaders' confidence and capacity to ...take on car culture and reduce vehicle trips to school. The early results showed the capability to more than halve the number of SSVs (Single Student Vehicles) - ranging from drops of 17% to 4% and 39% to 22%.
Success simply had to follow due to the extremely high level of enthusiasm, capacity-building and retention of participating student leaders.
In October 2000, at the workshop launch of the second year student leaders from Victoria joined their Vancouver colleagues at a re-launch workshop. These teenagers were asked about their motivations: 56% claimed to have returned in order "to enhance their leadership skills", while 33% came "to increase their ability to help the environment". (Earlier that month, off ramp won an OECD Best Practices award for Sustainability in Education and Youth.)
So.... how did we do in enhancing leadership skills?
Hey off rampers, what do you recall from these experiences almost 25 years ago? Did it affect any of your educational, career or lifestyle choices? Also for those who participated in off ramp off shoots in Whistler and Kelowna (BC), Auckland (NZ), Marin County (California), Toronto, Whitehorse, Winnipeg and ??
We want to hear from you. Specifically, a professor of Urban Planning with a focus on Child and Youth Friendly Cities would like to interview off ramp alumni. Please say hi and let us know how you are doing, and if you are interested in joining the research study.
with fond memories
former off ramp Program Manager