Every year, six children in the South Okanagan are treated to a summer biking program, introducing them to joy of riding on two wheels.
Hosted by the Penticton and Area Cycling Association, the Mtb Radical Riders program takes youth ages nine through 14 out for six mentored sessions on local school grounds and the pump track during the summer.
The program wrapped up its third year in July.
PACA past-president Laura Harp said the program is made possible each year by the generous donation from a South Okanagan couple, who purchase the bikes, helmets and other gear.
The couple wishes to remain anonymous.
“The (kids) didn’t know it at the time . . . they’re actually given the bikes, gear and helmet,” said Harp.
With the help of KVR and Skaha Lake Middle School administrators, children who may face barriers to beginning mountain biking are chosen.
“We had one mom who said it was getting her daughter out of the house more,” said Harp. “It was getting her out and more confident. It’s really great seeing their enthusiasm.”
Harp said the program also helps teach the importance of cycling as a healthy mode of transportation, encouraging children to bike to school or to a friend’s house.
“It gives them a lot of independence,” said Harp, adding in some cases, parents will purchase their own bike and ride with their children.