Collective Efforts: Lifelong Learning

Words By Sue Loveless
Photo By Sara Kempner

Community education thrives in Cumberland.

 


 

When the dismissal bell rings at Cumberland Community School, the day is far from over. Students gather for mountain bike club, soccer and art programs, or head over to the Youth Centre. Moms with young babies meet for tea and conversation, and community members attend evening workshops. The school becomes a place for individuals of all ages to connect, to learn, and to receive support.

These programs and services are offered by the Cumberland Community School Society (CCSS), a registered charity that has been operating in the Village of Cumberland since 2000. The Society currently provides free after-school programming, a healthy lunch program, a drop-in Youth Centre, as well as opportunities for lifelong learning.

Based on the philosophy of community education, CCSS works to strengthen the connection between our schools and the local community. There is a wealth of expertise in the Comox Valley, providing an amazing opportunity to learn from each other and increase our capacity. All it takes is a willingness to connect that expertise with the people who will benefit.

Every Thursday afternoon in the spring and fall, a group of youth and adult leaders head out to explore the local mountain bike trails. Mountain Bike Club is one of the more popular after-school programs, with up to 30 youth participating each session. It’s a collaborative effort between CCSS, the United Riders of Cumberland, and Dodge City Cycles. Volunteers provide instruction and mentorship, students learn new skills and build confidence, and everyone comes home smiling.
Over the years, local individuals have generously donated bikes and equipment for youth who don’t have their own, and programming has been expanded to include bike maintenance and trail building workshops. Participants aren’t just riding bikes; they are taking on leadership roles, establishing healthy lifestyles and learning what it means to be part of a supportive community.

This high level of community engagement is visible in all CCSS programs, from local vendors contributing to the lunch program, village artists creating a mural with youth, to Cumberland Museum staff sharing their passion for history. The support and dedication of volunteers, partners, and local businesses, makes it possible to offer a variety of programming that is accessible to all members of the community.

Whether it’s participating in mountain bike club, an art class, playing chess, or learning to brew kombucha, the overarching benefits are the same. It doesn’t matter whether you are 5-years-old, 75-years-old, the instructor, or the participant. It’s the process of sharing our talents and providing support, of learning from each other and receiving encouragement that impacts us the most. It’s the knowledge that you are part of a community that cares enough to create these opportunities.

To find out more about CCSS, or to get involved, visit cumberlandcommunityschools.com