Damon Campbell and Charles Johnny ride along a course during an Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program event. The program.

Provincial mountain bike program targets aboriginal youth

Bear Mountain trails in Langford to be given a test run

First Nations youth will be among the first to test the new biking trails at Bear Mountain.

The Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program hosts its first clinic this Sunday (May 24) at the popular West Shore resort, offering free coaching, instruction and a dirt jump demonstration from international and national-level competitors, all for aboriginal youth.

“We are excited about starting a relationship,” said Rob Fawcett, Westin Bear Mountain Resort director of mountain bike operations.

“Our expectations are to be able to work with the aboriginal program, meet the students interested in riding and just go from there. (We hope to) enjoy a day where we all get to ride our mountain bikes. (This) is a great experience we are glad to share.”

The non-profit Aboriginal Youth Mountain Bike Program, comprised of community planners, leaders, riders and trail builders, works with First Nation communities around the province, providing clinics and workshops on riding, trail planning, maintenance and development.

“This is geared towards aboriginal youth. We want to create a space where the youth feel comfortable – they may not have the same exposure to the sport some from other areas do,” said program director Patrick Lucas. “We wanted to create a day for them to get them out.”

The South Island Mountain Bike Society and Southern Vancouver Island Natural Trails society have also partnered with the program to bring the event to a facility recently designated the High Performance Training Centre for the Canadian national mountain bike team. The resort is in the midst of preparing numerous mountain biking trails that are expected to open to the public sometime this summer.

“We are really hoping this is just the start on the South Island,” Lucas said. “The Bear Mountain Resort team made it clear they would like to have an ongoing program. I am ridiculously excited. I hope we get a whole bunch of (participants), these kids are natural athletes and it is fun to see them grow into it and have a great time.”

For more information on the program, visit aymbp.ca or find them on Facebook.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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