BELFAST, Maine — Students at SAD 34’s alternative education program will have an opportunity to experience wellness alternatives thanks to a grant from the Maine Community Foundation’s Cobe Fund.
Ira Cobe was a Northport resident who left money in trust to the Maine Community Foundation to be used for the poor children of Waldo County, Cobe Fund Committee member Patrick Walsh said Tuesday. Walsh said SAD 34’s alternative school, Belfast Community Outreach Program in Education, or BCOPE, was an ideal vehicle to reach those students. He added that the Cobe Fund also supports programs in Searsport and Unity.
Walsh said the Cobe Fund also provides money for college scholarships as well as financial assistance for students who can’t afford educational materials or to participate in certain field trips.
The $5,150 grant for BCOPE will be used to provide the students with training in yoga, tae kwon do and acupuncture.
“They each will get a taste of what they are like,” BCOPE director Gary Skigen said Tuesday. “They will be asked to keep a journal and reflect on what happens at each episode. There will be follow sessions with a counselor to see what they gained from the program.”
SAD 34 health coordinator Linda Hartkopf said the yoga and tae kwon do classes would be offered throughout the year. The acupuncture would be provided for the students at the end of school quarters, which is often a high-stress time for some. When BCOPE offered acupuncture under another program five years ago to help students quit smoking, it proved to be effective, she said.
Skigen said he hoped the program would become a springboard to other offerings, such as equine therapy, where students would be taken to a farm or stable to work with horses. Skigen said many students are drawn to interactive activities such as the BCOPE garden and greenhouse.
“We want to be very creative in our offerings, and whatever comes our way in funding we’re very appreciative of,” Skigen said. “I think this is a fund that we will use again if the door is open.”