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Canadian Ski Patrol hopes corridor will pilot new safety program



Teaching kids to assess risk and know their 'stupid line' is basis of program

The head of a new safety program at the Canadian Ski Patrol System is keeping his fingers crossed that Whistler will become the site of the first pilot project in B.C.

"I think your area would be a good pilot one," said Peter Spear, co-ordinator of the CSPS national Snowsmart program, from his Calgary home.

Earlier this month the Howe Sound School District passed a motion to invite the CSPS to make a presentation to the board on the program which aims to increase awareness and knowledge among 12 to 18 year-olds regarding the risks associated with winter recreation activities.

"I think definitely we are looking forward to inviting (the CSPS) to come and speak to us," said board chair Amy Shoup.

Spear hopes to come to Vancouver and Whistler in the next couple of months and speak to several school boards about the Snowsmart project. He also hopes to make presentations in schools to youths as a first step in saving lives and helping kids make more informed decisions about playing in the great outdoors.

And since youth grow up, they can carry this knowledge with them as they pursue sports as adults.

"The real winners of the program are the kids," said Spear.

Not far behind the kids are the parents who, said Spear, often feel better about their kids heading onto the mountain to ski, ride or snowmobile if they know the youths have had some solid education about what the risks are associated with the sports.

"We are saying kids are always going to be taking risks," said Spear.

"But let's help them take smart risks and keep the odds on their side.

"We use the expression, 'Don't cross your stupid line.' In other words, if you are not sure of something and you do it then you have crossed your stupid line and that is when you are going to get in trouble because everyone's stupid line is at a different level."

Spear is also excited about the possibility of the program coming to the Sea to Sky corridor because of the work Whistler-Blackcomb already does with youth around mountain safety and the alpine skiers code of conduct.

The Snowsmart program is delivered through the school curriculum and is available in English and French. It is offered to Grade 7 and Grade 10 youths through physical education and science classes.

Teachers are trained to introduce the program and receive teaching materials, videos, posters, public service announcements, student information handouts and a teacher's how-to-guide.