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HAECC students learn to navigate the Valley by bus

Students in the Social Integration Services Program at the Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre have been learning to use public transportation and to become more independent.

Recently, the students have been adventuring away from the school using the free Haut-Saint-Laurent public transportation system to visit different municipalities and cities along the route, such as Ormstown, Howick, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Sainte-Barbe, and most recently Sainte-Martine.

For some students, these trips marked their first time using public transportation. The voyages are not just for fun, though the students do have a good time. They are also valuable learning experiences that allow students to practice some of the skills they have developed in the program, such as communication, navigation, and managing daily tasks. For example, the students check the weather before leaving to be sure they are dressed appropriately, they use Google Maps and the bus schedule to plan their route and decide together where they might eat during their visit.

Some students were nervous at first, but now many look forward to their Wednesday outings. “I don’t have the confidence to go alone, but when we go with others it helps,” says student Kayla Wright of her travels with the group. Some students have even begun to use the bus on their own to travel to and from school and during their spare time. “It’s easy and fun,” says student Frédéric Forget.

Wright especially enjoys getting to know the different towns during their trips. For example, on a trip to Sainte-Martine in early May, the students discovered a path built on an old train track that includes a rest area called the Halte de la Gare, that looks like a train station and includes information on the different trains that used to run through the area. This was a memorable stop for Wright, who is very interested in local history.

 

Students in the Social Integration Services Program at the Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre stopped at the Halte de la Gare in Sainte Martine as part of an educational bus trip using the free Haut Saint Laurent transport system PHOTO Huntingdon Adult Education and Community Centre

 

On the same trip, students enjoyed seeing the mix of rural and residential landscapes, bustling town life, and the beautiful Chateauguay River. After some sightseeing, it was time to shop. The students practiced using cash and debit cards to make purchases before enjoying a lunch all together and returning to school.

Teacher Michael Werenchuk considers the bus to be a very important service and a lifeline for some people in the Valley. He says the trips have become a highlight for many students.

Wright agrees and says she and her classmates have become closer because of their adventures together. The students have also formed a bond with one of the bus drivers named Lucie, who is very cheerful and who always makes the journey extra special.

“We get to go to many places in any number of towns in the Valley,” says student JJ Arthur Adjei. “It is being more independent, and I like that.”

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