The Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District’s Sprockids program is getting kids off the couch and onto the mountain biking trails in Williams Lake.
The program, started in the lakecity by Troy Forcier 16 years ago, is free for any youth in the community and offers participants the opportunity to learn mountain biking skills, along with life skills, values and strategies to guide them throughout their lives.
“We have a big mountain biking community in Williams Lake that has created like 200 trails in the city, and they’re just a natural resource and the Boys and Girls Club has recognized the value of this and made it possible for youth to also be involved,” said Denise Deschene, the Sprockids leader and also a mental health and substance use outreach prevention worker with Interior Health.
“There’s bikes there for kids to use, helmets they can borrow and the opportunity to learn about the trails and to explore them. It’s something that our community has that youth are able to utilize and we’re really lucky.”
Deschene said she got involved with the program 10 years ago after seeing it as an opportunity to engage with youth in a pro-social way.
“It may be a protective factor in keeping them from maybe getting involved in some unhealthy activities like drugs and alcohol,” she said. “[Mountain biking] kind of has that adrenaline rush that kids are seeking, especially boys.”
Deschene, along with two youth instructors, Tyler Tenning and Austin Boehm, meet at the BGCWLD Mondays and Wednesdays after school before deciding with participants where to ride that day.
Tenning, 16, said he’d recommend the program to anyone wanting to learn about mountain biking and the trail networks in Williams Lake.
“It gives an opportunity for kids however old to come and ride for free and get out and explore the trails and meet new friends,” Tenning said. “They get to learn how to fix their bikes, too and a little bit of trail maintenance.”
Cody Tetu, 14, recently moved to Williams Lake from Burnaby and has been attending Sprockids rides for the past few weeks.
Prior to moving to Williams Lake, he had never downhill mountain biked.
“It’s a very good program,” he said. “They have all the supplies here and it gets kids out and active. It’s something people should try and it gets people out of their comfort zone.”
Garrett Fischer, 12, has been participating in Sprockids since he was eight years old.
“It’s just fun in general,” he said. “I don’t usually ride that much but when I do Sprockids it gets me out to ride and you get to meet new people.”
Deschene added she hopes to one day expand the program to offer a girls-only course through the BGCWLD.
“We’re really wanting to get more girls involved more because it’s predominantly a boys’ sport and we’re still looking at ways to do that,” she said.
“[But] anyone is welcome. Anyone who wants to ride.”
Sprockids sessions kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays at the BGCWLD.