Last summer, before beginning his first year at Robert Land Academy 15-year-old Peter Darwin (who requested that his real name not be used) weighed 360 lbs. Since then Canada’s only military-themed school for adolescent boys with multiple challenges has transformed him.
Darwin has dropped 105 lbs., and now weighs 252 lbs., since boarding at the 33-year-old school in Southern Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. This summer he hopes to continue losing weight and ultimately reach his 210-pound goal.
Morbid obesity, an increasingly critical societal, cultural, medical and emotional concern, especially for young people, jeopardizes every sphere of their lives.
“At home, I used to raid the fridge whenever I wanted and I used to think I ate pretty healthy,” Darwin said, at this year’s graduation ceremony. “When I got sad, though, I’d eat a lot. Emotions controlled my eating.
“Robert Land Academy taught me a lot. It taught me how to set goals properly, to value my nutrition, to work out properly. Now, I eat three times a day. I like the food here. It tastes good. They don’t give you too much or too little. You control your portioning. Learn to make choices.”
Another class of mature, respectful, goal-oriented and successful young men completed their high school education at Canada’s only military-style boarding school for adolescent boys, some as young as 11 years of age.
Nestled in southern Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, these boys flourish in a school environment unlike any they’ve previously attended.
It stresses academic excellence, athletics, leadership and teamwork. Extracurricular activities “make it worthwhile,” said class valedictorian Paul Burrill, 17, from Burnaby, B.C., describing games and sports of every kind, plus rock climbing, boxing, wrestling, “even jumping out of a plane.”
Their family relationships heal. They develop confidence while achieving top academic marks that open doors to any university, college and career they choose.
Hailing from all over North America, Europe, Hong Kong and the Middle East, they arrive with a rash of challenges and diagnoses.
ADHD, ADD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder and different learning disabilities. Some have critical physical problems demanding lifestyle regulation. Morbid obesity. Diabetes. Others have abused alcohol and drugs or flirted with the law.