When we think about where our trails are going in the future, we think about gates, we think about forest fires, we think of public access to public land. Rarely do I hear reference to who will be the Wheelers of Tomorrow and how we can help ensure to leave a positive legacy that will continue to pay it forward and continue to build the strong Wheeling Family we have here in BC.
When youth are mentioned in and among our forums, it usually revolves around grad camps issues and perhaps a near miss or tragic events on our trails. This leads to many attempting to shame the youth, sometimes with unfortunate consequences, and a fair number of others saying that something should be done to educate our youth.
Where resources have allowed, interacting with Youth has long been a focus for the 4WDABC. We have seen this through Burn Fund and Big Brothers & Sisters Runs, and when many of our volunteers and members step forward when needed to lead cleanups of grad camps. These efforts have helped mentor the youth while also helping return our trails to their natural state. Over the years efforts have also been made to send out press releases and work directly with the high schools and youth involved in unfortunate grad-camp learning experiences. These efforts made with the single goal of providing an environment focused on mentorship, not judgment, to ensure growth occurs.
What has been lacking is a formal structure to develop a solid foundation of volunteers that are prepared to help mentor our youth. An environment where judgment is suspended, those involved simply acknowledge that humans do make mistakes and that we were all young once – learning the same lessons. That energy is then focused on helping them learn from their experiences and use these opportunities to help them take part in creating a positive environment.
To help close this chasm, 4WDABC resources have been dedicated to the development of a program called “Wheelers of Tomorrow”. The goal of this program is quite large in scope and is being broken down into different efforts. Breaking these out will allow us to focus our energy one direction at a time, ensuring the greatest return on the investment of our resources. It is estimated that it will take 3-4 years for the full program to be in force, as resources to make things happen are limited to the volunteer base and funds we must work with. Simply said – the more volunteers we have to quicker we will get to that end goal.
The focus of this program is to cover the ages of 0-19, building a solid community of our youth, allowing them to support one another. Within this, providing opportunities for them to become invested through their own efforts. This will directly result in ownership, engagement, and empowerment of our youth. As we know when someone “owns” something, understands the cause and effect change, and is invested, the final outcome has a much stronger chance of being positive.
Over the next few years the following goals are on the horizon:
- Once a year family focused old fashioned picnic/fundraiser in each region
- Once a year family focused runs in each region
- One Big Brothers & Sisters run in each region
- Off-road training for new drivers, to help ensure they know the basics of off-road safety
- Volunteer program with the high schools, working with the work experience teachers to have them involved with the Maintenance Runs and Cleanups in exchange for volunteer hours to help meet their high school grad requirements
- One to One Mentoring for the Off-Road Youth, should they wish to work with someone to gain wheeling experience or backroads/camping
- Providing “Successful Grad Camp” Plans to those in 11th and 12th grade, so when planning Grad Camps they have the greatest chance of not encountering negative publicity or issues after. Simple things such as “do you have a trailer to take the garbage with you after”, may not be something they’ve thought of.
- Presentations at Junior and Senior High Schools about Stewardship of the backroads
- Emergency Support should they find an issue with a grad camp that has had issues, with the commitment they will assist with the issue and not “abandon”
- Video and Photography Contests for youth
- Development of a Logo and providing of the logo to all youth and supporters of the group. The goal of this visual difference is that these youth will be looked at with and be provided the same respect that those of that run the 4WDABC logo on our trucks are greeted with on the trail.
To help meet these goals, we have created both a Facebook Page and Facebook Group. The Group is currently set as a Closed Group, the simple reason for this is to ensure that we are providing the youth that engages with the page a positive environment to grow and learn in. The group rules are simple: respect, mentor and do not judge.
We invite you to both like the page and request to join the group.
Our first Five Events have been listed, and we welcome you to participate in any of them.
June 16 – Hale Family Run – https://www.facebook.com/events/288420585176726/
July 14 – Big Brothers & Sisters Run – Sea to Sky –https://www.facebook.com/events/2374960496070984/
August 18 – Big Brothers & Sisters Run – Hale –https://www.facebook.com/events/2457435781150576/
September 8 – Family Picnic and Fund Raiser – Mission Heritage Park –https://www.facebook.com/events/2201018330112628/
Sep 22 – Sea to Sky Family Run –https://www.facebook.com/events/2305573709713202/
This program will be run under the guidance of Krixtina Wheeler. If you are interested in volunteering to help with the above items, or at any of the events that are planned, please reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are not in the Sea to Sky or Lower Mainland region and would like to host an event in your community, please reach out to Kristina Wheeler and she will provide any assistance needed. Ideally, we’d like to see this program branch out to the entire province and beyond.