The new year brings with it steep grades for some Shuswap school students.
School District 83’s new Mountain Bike Academy gets rolling on February 1 at Salmon Arm Secondary’s Jackson campus. Approved by the school board in March 2020, the course will be available to Grades 9-12 throughout the school district.
The academy’s first class of 17 students will be doing much more than riding. According to the school district, the course, which will run in terms three and four for about a half day each day, will include a community and sustainable planning component, where students collaborate with user groups and identify mutual needs, and provide quality development of sustainable resources.
Students will learn risk management and take first aid training. Another focus will be the development of leadership skills.
Teacher and coach of the SAS Mountain Bike Team, Chris Stromgren said the course is a fantastic fit for the community and the Shuswap, with its popular trail system overseen by the Shuswap Trail Alliance. Environmental sustainability and trail maintenance are part of the course outline; the section includes learning principles of sustainable trail building techniques such as drainage and erosion control and protection of sensitive habitat.
“I am most looking forward to teaching kids the skills of collaboration and compromise when it comes to trail design, authorization, and funding strategies,” explains Stromgren in a School District 83 release. “Getting outside and building trails always brings kids together, improves their focus and gives them a great sense of accomplishment.”
Being a Mountain Bike Academy, mountain biking skills will be a big part of the course, allowing students to focus on riding skill development and physical conditioning. The course will also focus on bicycle mechanics and repairs.
The Mountain Bike Academy has been a work in progress for just over a year., and Stromgren said the time was helpful to set up not just the course, but also establish permission and agreements from various trail user groups and societies.
“I have worked very closely with the Shuswap Trail Alliance in this regard,” said Stromgren. “Further planning has taken place in collaboration with local businesses and individual teachers.”