Community Papers

Polar Bear Plunge for a good cause

Chilliwack's annual Polar Bear Plunge isn't just about starting the new year with a splash.

It's also about getting to know a segment of the community often marginalized.

For six years BC Teen Challenge has been organizing the annual New Year's Day swim at Cultus Lake Main Beach with the aim of developing relationships and a rapport with the community it resides.

"We want to get as much exposure in Chilliwack as possible through this event," said Lance Marais, BC Teen Challenge network and provincial outreach coordinator.

BC Teen Challenge is a 12-month, residential, outreach program for adults trapped in addiction. The men's facility in Yarrow was opened in 2002. And over the years, hundreds have graduated from the Christian-based program.

But it's the post-graduation where the broader community is needed.

Studies show community relationships are key for people overcoming addiction – and those without community are likely to relapse.

"We want to put things in place where our students will actually have a community to go back into," said Marais. "We want to develop relationships with businesses so they'll take people on board, train them, and teach them."

The organization has built a strong reputation within the church community, but wants to expand to the entire community.

It hopes this year's plunge will achieve just that.

"This event is about giving people who don't know about Teen Challenge an opportunity to find out about what we do, what our future goals are, and how we want to help our current students integrate back into the community with a transitional plan," said Marais.

"The more people we get out to events like this, that's how we're going to build these relationships."

The Polar Bear Plunge is on January 1 at 11 a.m. at Main Beach in Cultus Lake. Registration is at 10:30 a.m.

Cost is $20 for adults, $10 for youth between 10 and 18 years old.

All proceeds raised go back to BC Teen Challenge.

Canned food donations for the Chilliwack Food Bank are also encouraged.

For more information, or to register online, visit the BC Teen Challenge website at www.bcteenchallenge.com/

kbartel@theprogress.com

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