I had the awesome opportunity to talk to Superintendent of the Hayward school District Craig Olson about his initiative in the Hayward community to do all activities Like a Cane. Specifically Olson has been working with the Birkebeiner Foundation on Skiing like a Cane. This campaign has the goal of raising money to go towards school needs, while also broadening the community and enhancing involvement and identification with a greater cause. This year there will be five dollar Ski like a Cane pins for sale at the Birkie, and with every pin sold money goes directly towards the school. So read a little more about the project, and then be sure to get your very own pin this year and Birkie like a Cane. WATCH SWEET SKI LIKE A CANE VIDEO
How did the Ski like a Cane campaign start?
It started off four years ago when I became the Superintendent of the district. I was the Middle School principal for six years, the High School for four, and kind of had this idea of like a Cane in my pocket. Instead of just an individual school campaign I wanted to make it a district wide thing and include the entire community. So then we started Play like a Cane, and bought some signs, screwed them into the football field, gave one to the community and one to the players. We just wanted to get people to believe in something. Play like Cane went from those three signs to all around our gym, our teachers took it and ran with it- for example Read like a Cane. We talked to the kids about what a “Cane” means, and then we brought it out to the local businesses. We were very honored because the whole world was coming to our building (for Birkie activities after Telemark closed) and I felt like we really had to do our part. The Birkie is just a great thing to piggy back on- it has a lot of local, state and national level attention, is one of the best skiing events in the world, and why not take advantage of it? And skiers like pins so let’s do something with that. The backside is to make some money to help us with budgets the way they are, but the real goal is to just get the message out that we are doing something special in a little town in Northwest Wisconsin.
What are the goals of the campaign?
Part of the goal is financial. Regarding whether is the money going to go to anything specific, there are no plans whatsoever, it could be whatever we are short on. It’s likely going to be some very materialistic type things- it could be text books, things for athletics, you know things of that nature. I know we can have it sitting in a piggy bank and use it for a rainy day. Beyond that, I like how the Birkie brings the community and the school together. We talk a lot about cultural diversity at school, and just looking at the Ski like a Cane website you can see website and the video going out to 30,000 different people. The Birkie is as diverse a community as it can get, and our Hayward message will be conveyed to all those people. So it is community. We are expanding our community- The school and community work together to be strong, and now the Birkie is part of our community, and anyone who buys one of those Ski like a Cane pins becomes part of our community as well.
What has been the response from the students?
The first time when we introduced it on Facebook, we wanted everything to be like a Cane. You know Walking up the Stairs like a Cane, for example. It was definitely a joke, but I told our principal I wanted it to be laughed about as much as possible, because the more they are saying it as a joke the more they are saying it. It is a language that we speak and has become a commonality our whole community can share. Now kids look at the posters around town and say it looks like people are watching us, like two eyeballs. And I tell them that they are! Now when you go to a business you need to Act like a Cane, because they are expecting more out of you than other communities. The kids are buying in, they are definitely taking notice and I’ve seen a change.