Kids to Kilimanjaro - Street2Peak

Ever heard of inner city kids in grades 8,9 and 10 that want to climb a 19,341 foot tall mountain in Africa ? That come into school during summer at 8 am to hike? Kids that run full marathons (42.2km) and love it ?
I have, I am one, and here is my story.
“You’re going to end up just like your mother.” These were the words that  broke my soul down and brought me to where I am today. My mother was actually an incredibly beautiful, smart, loving and happy person. But she was a heroin addict. Throughout my 17 years, I’ve struggled with sitting still in class, self-image, living in foster homes, and dealing with judgment from others and myself. “You’re a fat, lazy nothing! Look at her waddle down the halls!” I would hear phrases like this all day and echoing in my mind all night. I was nothing. I felt worthless, I hated myself more than anything, I wasn’t doing well in school, no one liked me, and I was the outcast. When I came to Street front alternative program I was at a point in my life where I had given up. I had no hope or faith and didn’t want to, I didn’t care about anything or anyone, including myself. I had isolated myself from everyone and everything healthy, I was a self-destructing, ticking, time bomb. And I was about to explode. I felt I needed change and the only one who could get me out of this mess was me. I heard about Street front through a friend and didn’t think much of it but, I knew they did sports and running; the two things I hated with a passion. I was a fine arts kind of girl but I needed something different; somewhere that would challenge me in a sense but with smaller class sizes and more one to one work. The moment I stepped into that portable for my interview, my life had changed forever.    

    “We run because we can.” Is a saying that changed my life, me, and bring me to tears just at the thought. My mother passed away while I was attending Street front two years ago.  Her birthday was two days after, when I came to school to explain I will be gone for a few weeks to plan her funeral with my 16 year old sister, Trevor (the teacher) had a birthday cake for her and a card along with tons of hugs and understanding. When she passed I vowed to myself that I would do everything I possibly can in life to succeed and do my best at everything, because I can. My mom couldn’t, she didn’t get that chance. But I did. I remember when I ran the half marathon in Seattle my mama was so proud of her little girl. I also remember running the full marathon in Vancouver with Trevor’s honest words “Your mother would be so proud of you, do this for her, if you can’t do it for yourself.” I don’t think I’ve ever had a bigger accomplishment in my life; not just completing it but being the first girl in Street front to run a full marathon. I also have never done something so mentally excruciating, physically painstaking, and emotionally draining. And I cannot begin to express how my thought process has changed since this day. I actually believe in myself. Something I thought never possible. I have work ethic now and I understand mentality to a whole new level.

Street Front is based on the one thing I passionately dislike; physical activity. Being able to face that and overcome it every single day was a challenge and a reward, not only did my physical health improve drastically, so did my mental health. I was finally happy with myself. This school works, it works for the ones that have been pushed to the ground, stomped on and told they were never going to make it. To see these young kids make it first hand, to be one of those kids. It’s truly amazing, inspiring and motivating, I now aspire to inspire and this is  why our dream needs to come true, not just for the kids going to Africa but for everyone.

    When you hear about a group of “youth-at-risk” and “inner-city kids” from an alternative school in grades 8, 9 and 10 wanting to go to Africa to climb a mountain that will take 8 days, you can’t help but wonder why? Well, we run because we can. We run because it shows us we can accomplish anything; it shows others that they can accomplish anything. This trip will show the world; not an amazing group of kids, but show the world inspiration; dedication and motivation. All the things I never had that Street Front gave to me. It gave me hope again. I see these kids wandering the streets doing drugs and skipping school, then I walk down to Street front and I see kids engaged, wanting to learn, running, hiking, snowshoeing, canoeing, camping and loving it. When you see these kids that didn’t have an easy start that were set up for failure and then succeed. That is a feeling nothing can replace.  Its really not about where you are from, but about where you are going.

    So please understand that this trip is not only for the kids going but for everyone supporting them and everyone that hears their story. My name is Jesse Costucci-Phillips and I graduated from street front two year ago and am currently in grade 12. My grades have gone up drastically along with attendance, my mom would be very proud. I hope to go on this trip along with the kili crew, but there just isn't enough funding. We need your help. If this trip is made possible, when I reach the top I'll be spreading my mothers ashes as I know she would have loved to get the chance to go to Africa. If I can't go I will be happy living vicariously through these kids, and just supporting their efforts and helping them reach the peak; making their dreams come true. Street2Peak is an idea that seems a little crazy, but that’s Street Front for you.

Please visit our website to learn more about the trip.
And check out the facebook page to see some awesome photos of the kids on some of our training hikes!


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Jesse Costucci 
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