Youths who are big into off road vehicles were provided with real world teaching on ATV safety Saturday, Aug. 22.
The initiative was sponsored by the Ponoka Agricultural Society, which hired MUDD Safety, a youth ATV safety company, back for a second year in Ponoka. Owner Jodie Stauffer walked kids through scenarios of potential ATV accidents to give them a sense of what they will need to do in the event of an accident.
Stauffer said the need for youth safety training with ATVs grows each year and she focuses on kids aged six to 16. “Our morning session is all interactive. Real life. So we talk about what’s happening in their community.”
Providing real world scenarios to kids gave them a chance to consider what they would need to do if an emergency did occur, said Stauffer. “It makes everyone just stop and think. What would I do if that was my mom or that was my sister?”
Stauffer started the program in 2008 as she realized there was nothing available for educating youths. The program developed and grew over the years.
“One of the biggest take-aways I get, which I always find humorous, is the impact that they (participants) have on their families when they go home,” said Stauffer.
Youths bring the training back to their family and their lessons, raising further awareness among parents and family members.
“Our goal is to get helmets on kids and secondly to keep them alive no matter what, out there in the sport of off-roading,” said Stauffer.
The afternoon session then provided practical training with youths being able to use ATVs on an obstacle course. Each attendee received a helmet as part of the course and Stauffer said the afternoon session is one of the exciting parts of the training day for youths.
“We’re actually just going to do some closed course riding with them,” said Stauffer.
She showed participants how to properly size themselves with a quad and how to use one appropriately if it is bigger than what they need.
“We know that a lot of kids aren’t riding size appropriate (quads),” explained Stauffer.
The key goal is to keep them safe by providing necessary tools for riding ATVs. “Our program happens because communities bring us in because they care.”
One area Stauffer feels will need to be addressed is more people are using ATVs and there is more access to equipment while the safety training cannot match the expansion of that access. “We’ve had more deaths in Alberta in the first weeks of the season than we had all last year,” she noted.