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Snow problem . . . North Otago children (from left) Tess McAtamney, Molly Whittaker, Heath Cartlidge and Anika Robinson get ready for a session at Ohau skifield. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

An Oamaru snow lover hopes the creation of a new winter sport club will expose a generation of Waitaki children to the allure of the slopes.

The North Otago Youth Snow Sports Club has been established by parents and educators who are proponents of the value of education outside the classroom.

The club hopes to enlist a bunch of local primary school-aged children to take part in up to eight one-day sessions at Ohau Skifield, starting in the first week of the third term.

“We just want to provide a platform, I guess, for kids in North Otago to head up to the skifield and join in their school programme up there,” club spokesman Bruce Wickham told the Oamaru Mail

“It’s a great programme and we thought we’d like to give all kids in North Otago the opportunity to do it.”

Mr Wickham said St Joseph’s School parent Kerry Robinson and former deputy principal Paul Cartlidge, who had run a similar schools programme in Wanaka, were key drivers of the idea behind the club.

St Joseph’s had previously joined the Ohau classes, and the hope was that other schools would see the value in their pupils being part of the new club.

“The biggest thing for the kids in these classes is just the confidence they gain,” Mr Wickham said.

“It’s about personal growth and resilience. You see kids challenging themselves and getting better every week.

“From a social perspective, being on the snow is a great leveller. Sometimes you’ve got kids who struggle to find their niche at school. They might not be able to break into a sports team or a social peer group, and they get on the snow and just fly.”

The Ohau programme runs on weekdays. Some schools had indicated interest in making it part of the curriculum, Mr Wickham said, and the club planned to work in closely with schools in future years.

For $45 a session, participants get boots and ski/snowboard hire, lift passes and a two-hour lesson.

“You talk to people sometimes and they think a ski club can be elitist or a rich kids’ club,” Mr Wickham said.

“But the price you pay for what you get at Ohau is unprecedented. It’s very good value.”

The club would look at scholarships or grants in future years to help some children enter the world of skiing.

“By setting up the club, we can step outside the school umbrella so we can access some funding and we’re not competing directly with school budgets or teacher resources.”

Mr Wickham hoped 30-40 Waitaki children would take part in the programme this year.

Anyone interested in finding out more about the North Otago Youth Snow Sports Club can email Bruce Wickham (brucewickham@xtra.co.nz) or head to the club’s Facebook page.