By Steve Hubrecht 

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Teens looking to stay active throughout the winter now have a new option, with the Summit Youth Centre having just launched its Open Gym program. 

The program provides local youth access to the gym at David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) on Fridays after school and on Saturdays, with Summit Youth Centre staff on hand to run recreation programs. The first Open Gym days were earlier this month, on February 2 and 3, with volleyball, badminton and indoor soccer. 

“It went really well,” said Summit Youth Centre manager Pauline Chevanne. Turnout was decent, with 10 teens at the first-ever program on Friday, and Chevanne expects it will climb as the program progresses over the next few months. 

“It’s not really well-known yet,” she said. “When more youth know about it, we’ll probably see more of them coming to it.” 

This coming Friday, Feb. 16 there will be volleyball and badminton; Saturday, Feb. 17 is badminton and open gym time; and next Friday, Feb. 23 will be dodgeball. 

Open Gym will run most weekends from now until the end of May. The idea for it came from a survey of Columbia Valley youth and from in-person feedback to Summit Youth Centre, stretching back for years. Through both those avenues local youth made clear that they wanted more free indoor recreation programs through the winter and spring. 

“There’s a lot of great outdoor recreation in the valley in winter. But the gear to go snowboarding, for example, can be expensive,” said Chevanne. “If you can’t afford these things, or don’t have a good option for transportation, there isn’t necessarily a whole lot to do through the winter.” 

The Open Gym program seeks to address that. 

“It’s good for mental health, it’s good for physical health, and it’s good just for helping kids to not be bored and on screens all the time,” said Chevanne, adding that physical activity can reduce stress, reduce anxiety, improve mood, boost self-esteem, enhance cognitive function, and reduce symptoms of depression, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada.  

Open Gym runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays and is open to any youth aged 12 to 18. To participate youth must be registered with the Summit Youth Centre (for insurance purposes), but organizers want joining to be as easy as possible and so will have forms available at each program session so youth can sign up on the spot. 

The program is funded by the Radium Rotary Health and Wellness Endowment Fund and #BrettBrettBaltacBoat Concert, through the Columbia Valley Community Foundation. Visit the Summit Youth Centre Facebook page or visit invermeresummityouthcentre.org.