BC Winter Games leaves a legacy for local youth

A team of 36 youth ambassadors are helping kids catch the spirit of the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games.

BC Winter Games leaves a legacy for local youth

A passion for sport often grabs hold in the early years.

A team of 36 youth ambassadors from high schools and middle schools in School District 67 are helping kids get those first hands-on looks at sports they don’t normally see as a way to share the spirit of the Penticton 2016 BC Winter Games.

West Bench Elementary students got their hands on some bows and arrows with the help of B.C. Archery Association president Ron Ostermeier and his wife Mary for a first look at archery on Feb. 3, one of the 18 sports that will be played by athletes from across the province when the Games come to Penticton Feb. 25 to 28.

Princess Margaret Secondary students Jayden Landry and Jamie Lezard were the youth ambassadors on deck to help kids get a look at a new and exciting sport.

Landry said he got involved with the initiative to get kids pumped for the games.

“I’m a sporty person, I really love sports. Once something like this comes around I really want to get involved and help out as much as I can,” Landry said.

He feels it is important to let kids know what their options are when they are young.

“If they actually want to pursue that type of sport when they older, or just have fun with their friends then they can actually try it, learn all the rules, learn the game itself and play it at a young age,” Landry said.

Lezard hopes to accomplish the same and generate some excitement about the Games among the local youth.

“I thought it would be great to get kids really excited for the BC Winter Games. If they are going to be participating, or if they just wanna watch. I love sports as well, nothing as competitive as these, just for fun,” Lezard said.

Jenny Mitchell, chair of community development for the BC Winter Games, was also on deck at West Bench Elementary. It’s a trip down memory lane for the two-time former ringette player at the BC Winter Games.

“It’s fun for me to come as an athlete and now to be full-circle and helping other kids get excited about it,” Mitchell said.

She is helping teams of two to four youth ambassadors introduce a variety of sports, including ringette, karate, judo, wheelchair basketball and curling, to students throughout SD67 leading up to the start of the games.

Many of the schools the youth ambassadors will be visiting are also hosting students during the Games.

“It’s fun to see kids get excited about sport. By exposing them to these different avenues to try something they wouldn’t normally try, maybe we get them excited about that and they want to participate themselves. They see these BC Games athletes who aren’t that much older than them so they are more relatable than Olympic-level athletes, they are just like them,” Mitchell said.