"What does it take to be inspired to connect with our neighbours when nothing out of the ordinary is happening?" This question is always on the mind of Oaklands Community Centre's executive director, Kristi Rivait, as she brainstorms new personal-enrichment programs and community action plans. Along with increasing the emotional and physical safety of a neighbourhood, the centre's classes give people of all ages—particularly those younger than 21—a fun way to bond with a group while getting in shape, acquiring language skills, or learning to cook with a violin. Kids get their hands dirty safely in programs led by nature educators, teens socialize through musical theatre or laser tag, and adults stay active with classes as energetic as boot camp and as meditative as yoga. Most events happen at a modern brick building on Belmont Avenue, and a white bungalow on Victor Street is largely devoted to the Little Acorn child-care program.
Equipped with an in-depth knowledge of alcohol and service regulations, the experienced instructors at Fine Art Bartending School lead their students toward mixology mastery or job placement in the bartending industry during intensive eight-day courses. While many schools focus solely on the craft, Fine Art's instructors also hone customer service skills, teaching students tip-enhancing approaches and how to graciously deflect customer's attempts at Bryan Adams sing-alongs. Students can opt for a training course on the widely used Squirrel point-of-sale (POS) system, held on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., for $65 plus HST. They also hold individual classes targeted at everyday drinkers, divulging industry-style instructions for blending specific drinks, performing difficult mixes, or pouring the perfect beer.
A riding teacher since 1976 and holder of numerous coaching certifications, Brinna Ellis heads up the instruction and training programs offered at Dip ‘N Run Stables. Whether individually or in small groups, fledgling riders are paired with the school’s trusty horses based on character, experience, and how many Kentucky Derby winners they can name. In addition to Brinna’s coaching of students from all walks, including therapeutic horse-riding sessions, the school also offers leasing programs for its horses, as well as show coaching packages.
Praised by CityVoters as the best course in western Washington, Avalon Golf Links lays out three nines that offer eye-pleasing glimpses of the Skagit Valley below. Though each nine conceals its own unique set of obstacles, every 1 of the 27 holes place golfers amid a picturesque sweep of Northwestern flora, challenging them to bend shots around towering evergreens and send drives screaming against the backdrop of the Olympic and Cascade ranges. The North Nine bookends the toughest stretch on the course in holes four through seven, a rigorous test requiring approaches as steady as the hand of a neurosurgeon playing Operation. Though short in comparison, the West Nine is notable for its tight fairways and frequent East-to-West orientation, yielding panoramic views of the Cascade Mountains. The South Nine punishes poor approaches with challenging greens, where balls frequently run away from their owners when struck too firmly or distracted by a particularly attractive goose egg.
After testing mind and body over 18 holes, Avalon's Sweet Bite Cafe stands at the ready to refuel tuckered-out golfers with breakfast served starting at 7:30 a.m. on weekends and sandwiches served starting at 11 a.m.
Course at a Glance:
Julia Chapin Bozzo has been on an equestrian crusade for 20 years. She founded NorthWest Therapeutic Riding Center in 1993, and has overseen its Equine-Assisted Activities and Therapies (EAAT) programs since day one, fostering a welcoming, nurturing environment for riders with disabilities such as autism, Down syndrome, multiple sclerosis, and brain injuries. Adhering to the strict guidelines set forth by PATH Intl. (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International), her facility leverages the healing power of horses to enrich the well-being of riders of all ages. Whether they're toddlers or seniors, each participant reaps the physical, mental, emotional, and social rewards of riding with the center’s gentle horses—gaining strength and coordination, interacting with the natural world, and, most importantly, building self-esteem. Thanks to Julia’s efforts and the assistance of certified riding instructors and a 30-strong team of weekly volunteers, the center conducts more than 950 lessons annually, each individually tailored to the rider’s therapeutic goals.
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