Have skills will travel!

Have skills will travel!

The SD83 Mountain Bike Academy students from Jackson found themselves testing their mechanical skills in a different way on June 8 as they worked with Marni Abbott-Peter from Let’s Play BC and Mike Jalmarson from National Seating and Mobility to do the yearly maintenance on the sport wheelchairs which are used by SD83 schools for the Wheelchair PE unit.

Healthy Schools Coordinator Laura Paiement explains that in 2019 School District No. 83 (North Okanagan-Shuswap) received a district set of sport wheelchairs to use during PE classes, thanks to Let’s Play BC and Director Marni Abbott-Peter, a three time Paralympic gold medalist. She says these sessions are very successful, that students are actively engaged, and love learning the new skill of wheeling while playing different games, obstacle courses, and wheelchair basketball. “The students learn a valuable, hands-on lesson of the physical and mental strength it requires to use a wheelchair. Through this learning they have demonstrated sincere respect and empathy for athletes and others living day-to-day with the aid of a wheelchair. The whole experience promoted powerful messages about ability, empathy, inclusion, and perseverance.”

Each year these wheelchairs need to go through a maintenance routine and this year, with many things on her plate, Paiement thought she would approach Mountain Bike Academy teacher Chris Stromgren to see if his 28 students might be interested in expanding their mechanic skills from just bikes to include wheelchairs!

The SD83 Mountain Bike Academy course is open to Grades 9-12 throughout the school district. It includes not only a focus on biking skills and enjoyment of fitness and sport but also community and planning where students will collaborate with user groups and identify mutual needs and provide quality development of sustainable resources, safety and first aid, safe practices and risk management, development of leadership skills, as well as a component on mechanics and repair.

Stromgren agreed and he and his class of 28 students cycled down to the DESC on June 8 to tackle the project, along with Abbott-Peter, Jalmarson, and Paiement. Paiement said she was so impressed with the students’ skills and, in much less time than she expected, all of the work was done.

“Thank you to everyone for helping to keep these fleet of wheelchairs in top condition for this very rewarding project,” adds Paiement.

Of course, the students had to test their work . . . by playing some wheelchair tag . . .then the wheelchairs were put into storage until next school year!

MTB Academy is still accepting students for next year. At this point the enrolment for 2022-23 is low, and the program is in danger of not running. If you are interested in registering, or learning more about the program, please contact a counsellor at Jackson to enroll or contact Stromgren (cstromgr@sd83.bc.ca) for any further info. You can read the Mountain Bike Academy course outline here.