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KTW Christmas Cheer Fund: Falcon Program wants these kids to fly

For children who have been victims of adversity and trauma, it can be a challenge to remain in a classroom environment for the entire school day. Some kids struggle to handle more than an hour or two.

For children who have been victims of adversity and trauma, it can be a challenge to remain in a classroom environment for the entire school day. 

Some kids struggle to handle more than an hour or two.

The Falcon Program was designed specifically to work with these children. This year, that work is being supported by the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund.

The goal of the program is to help kids to learn to manage their feelings and behaviour so they can gradually increase the amount of time they are able to be in the classroom.

This is the second session of an ongoing pilot project for the Falcon Program that began last spring.

The program is a partnership between the Ministry of Children and Family Development’s Child and Youth Mental Health, the Boys and Girls Club of Kamloops, Thompson Rivers University and the Kamloops-Thompson school district.

Katherine Gulley, team leader and clinical supervisor with Child and Youth Mental Health, is quick to point out which organization is on the front lines.

“It’s really a Boys and Girls Club program,” she said. “It’s unique in that we’re all  partnering, but the Boys and Girls Club has the contract and is housing the program. So we’ve provided contract money for the pilot to the Boys and Girls Club and CYMH and SD73 have also provided time. We’ve both contributed staff to the program.”

Kerry Woehle, the Boys and Girls Club’s manager of program operation, said there are a number of different activities that are part of the program.

“When they get here, we normally do some regulating activities with them outside to get them calm and settled,” she said. “And then they come inside and participate in trauma-informed programming activities. Much of our focus is on the importance of creating safety and developing healthy relationships.”

One of the bigger features of the program is equine therapy, in which the children take turns leading a horse and eventually riding. Weekly equine therapy takes place at Cherry Creek's Copper Hills Equestrian Centre, under the guidance of counsellor Robin Collins.

“Walking the horses really helps to regulate the kids,” Woehle said. “And, through working with the horses, the children begin to understand how to trust and relate to others. They’re really engaged in the equine therapy.”

But quality therapeutic services can be costly, which is why the people behind the Falcon Program are so grateful for money from the KTW Christmas Cheer Fund, as well as the generosity of the public in general.

“The Christmas Cheer Fund will be huge for us because it will help us be able to afford ongoing equine therapy,” Woehle said

The money will also go toward paying the two part-time staff members the Boys and Girls Club allots to the program.

Trish Smillie, director of instruction for elementary education and learning services in the Kamloops-Thompson school district, agrees that the funding is a huge help.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “We are so very fortunate to have so much community support and so many people recognizing the importance of offering these types of programs.”

Donations from the public are also encouraged, Smillie said

 “Any amount of donation and funding we get from folks goes a long way in the lives of these children.”

While the aim of the program is to improve the lives of children who have experienced trauma, there needs to be a method to determine the program’s effectiveness.

That is where Rebecca Sanford comes in.

The lecturer in TRU’s faculty of education and social work and a research assistant are diving into the data, focusing on the process and outcomes.

Those who wish to donate directly to the Falcon Program can do so through the Kamloops-Thompson school district.

For more information, call 250-374-0679.

Christmas Cheer Logo 2018


Charities being supported this year include the Y Women’s Emergency Shelter, Out of the Cold shelter, The Mustard Seed New Life Community, Kamloops Brain Injury Association and Boys and Girls Club’s Falcon Program.

To donate, go online to or visit the KTW office, 1365B Dalhousie Dr. in Southgate. Office hours are Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

All donations collected will be held by the United Way Thompson Nicola Cariboo for distribution in January. Online receipts will be issued immediately by the United Way; cash donations will generate receipts in January.

During the KTW Christmas Cheer campaign, we will recognize donors, along with a running tally:


• St. John Vianney Friday Afternoon Bridge Club: $100

• In Memory of Peter Botham: $100

• Valerie Brown: $100

• ND McGowan: $100

• KTW Social Fund: $321

• Kamloops This Week: $2,070

• Anonymous: $100

• Anna Evenrude: $50

• John and Val Kemp: $100

• Spencer and Janet Bryson: $200

• The Posse: $100

• Irene Anderson: $20

• Lynne Totten: $100

• Marg Clements: $100

• Anonymous: $500

• Darren, Sharlene & Kyle McIlwain: $158

• Tracey Mourre: $20

• Rick & Judy Collinge: $100

• Anonymous: $25

Tom & Sharon Moore: $100

• Amy Regen: $100

• Wally & Wendy Reddeman: $75

• Jerry & Wendy Patrick: $100

• Rick Bennett: $50

• Teresa & Colman Byrne: $200

• Anonymous: $100

• Evelyn Meyer: $60

• Buzz & Jane Osterloh: $100

• Anonymous: $200

• Anonymous: $320

• Margaret Sandulak: $100

• Shirley Brown: $100

• Wendy and Kim in memory of Peter Basson & John Healy: $25

• Linda Jackson in memory of George Wilmot: $100

• Anonymous: $500

• Jo-Mary & Bob Hunter: $200

• Sharon L. in memory of Sharon & David Frampton: $100

• In memory of James Maloney: $500

• Shirley Ross: $100

• Sue Turner: $200

• Cyndi Lion: $100

• Lois McAlary: $100

• Donna Sharpe: $50

• Anonymous: $150

• Don & Marlene Pattern: $60