Yale Secondary embraces recycling program

Students learn life skills and support charities

Students in the Community Access Program at Yale Secondary sort through bottles and cans they collect throughout the year. Pictured are (from left) Sabrina McLean

Students in the Community Access Program at Yale Secondary sort through bottles and cans they collect throughout the year. Pictured are (from left) Sabrina McLean

An Abbotsford school has collected and returned the most beverage containers among high schools across the province since 2008.

Yale Secondary has been taking part in the Return-It School recycling program for the last 11 years.

The program enables schools to use the bottle refunds towards their own programs.

Resource teacher Jim Heinrichs said his students see the program as much more than just a recycling program — they embrace it as a challenge to master, treat it like a business and learn life skills.

He said the students are “relentless” at collecting beverage containers, and the teachers use the program to teach important skills, especially for special-needs students in the Community Access Program.

“We work together to hand out flyers and recycling bags to the local community and hand deliver to each house as part of our community outreach. Our students get to know the community and they, in turn, learn about our students.”

Students from the special-needs resource program also learn money management by depositing the refunds into bank accounts donated by a local bank and using debit cards to purchase classroom equipment, as well as subsidize activities and field trips.

They also buy groceries for their cooking program and learn cooking skills.

Heinrichs’ support staff Brian Herrmann and Pat Mitchell said the students also gain valuable work experience they would not normally get out in the community on their own.

In addition, the school donates the returns to food banks and local charities that support youth.

For more information about the program, visit returnitschool.ca.