Students at Sk’elep School of Excellence have spent the past 12 weeks mastering their snowboarding technique both on and off the mountain, thanks to funding from the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC).
In partnership with Snowboard Canada, Snowboard BC and the First Nations Snowboard Team Association, Anne Keith, the youth, sports and recreation co-ordinator for Tk’emlups put forward a proposal to INAC to bring the Burton Riglet program to the elementary school.
“It’s their introduction to a snowboarding program. It’s really quite cool. They have little boards that you can drag, they have a little reel on them that you can pull kind of like a water ski rope,” she said. “Then they have a game like twister but with snowboarding. You roll a dice and you can grab different spots on the board and it tells you the different names of all the grabs.”
The students spent six sessions from the end of November throughout December utilizing equipment that prepared them for an on-snow experience.
Starting in January the kindergarten to grade three students practised outside on the snow-covered lawn in front of the school, while the grade four to grade seven students had one day a week at Sun Peaks Resort.
“For this year we used the First Nations Snowboard coaches to support the in-school program and we’re using the snowboard coaches up at the mountain as well,” said Keith.
She added they doubled up on coaches to ensure the kids were successful and enjoyed their time on the mountain.
“I believe almost all of them are up the mountain, so they’re all going up the chairlift. It’s pretty cool. The Riglet program, the indoor program, really has shown to be an advantage for the kids to get out there,” said Keith.
The unique program proved to be successful in getting kids excited about physical education.
“The kids are really excited about phys ed and getting out and we have almost 100 per cent participation throughout the school,” said Keith.
The pilot project has already expanded in its first season bringing the Riglet program to students in Barriere, B.C. at Neqweyqwelsten School. Keith said next year they hope to bring the program to even more First Nations communities.