HOPE sign created by Norm Bradley last year that still sits outside the main entrance to Kelowna General Hospital as a source of inspiration and appreciation to hospital staff on the COVID-19 frontlines. (Barry Gerding - Black Press Media)

Kelowna park project to magnify message of hope

Retired principal leads hope-themed project for Strathcona Park

Norm Bradley was a beacon of inspiration for students and his public education peers alike during his career as a public education teacher and administrator.

In retirement, Bradley is continuing to share his leadership and message of hope to the school district, frontline health workers and the greater Kelowna community.

Bradley, a past director of instruction with the Central Okanagan school district and principal of Mount Boucherie Secondary School, has embarked on a project with the city’s blessing “to do something special in Strathcona Park around the theme of hope.”

“I am working with a group of people who have come together and have a vision to reflect the concept of hope,” Bradley said in a video presentation showcased for school trustees at the Central Okanagan board of education May 26 meeting.

The idea’s genesis began when Bradley and his wife cut short a vacation in Hawaii to return home when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We came home and were quarantined for 14 days, so during that time I was sitting there thinking what could I do to bring some positive energy, some spirit, to what was going on in our city and our health care workers,” Bradley said.

He said beyond driving around the hospital with others at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. during hospital staffing shift changes to show their support for those frontline workers, he wanted to do more to show his admiration for nurses and doctors were “putting their lives on the line” to help others.

“They gave me hope. And hope is such a powerful word in my life. I am very fortunate to have had amazing parents who instilled hope in me throughout my life. It was always a part of my upbringing,” he said.

He also had the opportunity to get to know Terry Fox when both were students at Simon Fraser University.

“He was an ordinary guy who did an extraordinary thing to help bring Canada together,” Bradley said of Fox’s Marathon of Hope fundraiser to fight cancer.

“I got to know him and his story, and his marathon of hope stuck with me.”

After he returned from Hawaii, Bradley took on his own personal project to create a sign around the word ‘hope’ on display at the hospital entrance to acknowledge the efforts of Kelowna General Hospital staff amid the pandemic.

His thought is the Strathcona Park project will build on that idea in a larger, more dramatic way, reflecting that same theme.

Kevin Kaardal, Central Okanagan Public Schools administrator/CEO, confirmed the school district has signed on as a partner in the Strathcona Park project.

He called it a gift for the community with a powerful message, one the school district has adopted as its theme, hope, for the 2021-22 school year.

“It is the same gift (Bradley) has given to educators and students during his career,” Kaardal said in the video.

Kaardal said he began hearing of Bradley’s exploits in encouraging students to take on a leadership role when both were working in the Lower Mainland.

“When I came to the Central Okanagan, I was sad to hear that Norm was retiring as I was looking forward to finally having the opportunity to work with him, someone who is has led by principle and with purpose,” he recalled.

The school district theme for the 2020-21 school year has been courage, which Kaardal said was needed to face the impact of the pandemic, but a new year brings hope for a better future.

“Norm is a person who inspired hope for all of us and we are thrilled to give back in this joint project which is focused on hope,” Kaardal said.

READ MORE: UBC launches COVID-19 rapid testing clinic for students, others on campus

READ MORE: Fundraiser launched to support family of Kelowna teen killed in car crash

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