Ben Chaddock promotes Kinesiology through B.I.K.E.S.
Ben Chaddock is a professional cyclist well-known for his 2012 Canadian National Criterium win. One of his mandates is to educate and inspire youth to develop healthy life styles through sport and finding their passion and interests toward their future careers. Through his project, Bicycle-Inspired Kinetics in Elementary Schools (B.I.K.E.S.), Ben produces 10 short videos per year displaying 10 professions varying between the environmental, art and human health fields. Guest speakers explain how important their leisure time is to live out their dreams and balance their lives.
Majo: “Ben, where did this project idea come from?”
Ben: “This project developed out of the bicycle safety rodeo that I was involved in during my time at Whitman College. Rodeos turned into monthly visits, and visits turned into videos when I started traveling. My message was refined in time.”
Majo: “When and how did your project start?”
Ben: “The long version? Okay here we go! A collegiate cycling team doesn't have much to offer a sponsor other than its time, so when we were trying to rebuild our team to win a national championship before 2009 (the team won the Collegiate D2 Team Omnium in 2005 and 2006), I knew that our community presence needed to improve. An amazing teacher, Mrs. Barga, welcomed my teammates and I to an upcoming bicycle safety rodeo at her school. Essentially we ran ten stations, played the cheerleaders and mentors and awarded cool swag to the winners of the slow race (balance exercise). Over the next three years the team's partnership with local schools continued to grow and created a unique community portfolio for our sponsors, ultimately leading to partnerships that were important in claiming National Titles in 2009 and 2010. But after I graduated, Mrs. Barga missed my presence at the events so when I was in town for a training camp in the fall of 2011, I visited her class to share stories from my first year as a professional. Afterwards, I sent the students poor-quality phone camera videos of my travels, behind-the-scenes looks at team camp and so forth. They loved it and sent back drawings of their own dream goals and a response video about bicycle safety. The next season I achieved my dream goal of winning the national championships and knew that I wanted to maximize this success to create a positive impact in the community that helped me reach that goal. So for BIKES 2013, I tried to make higher quality videos and welcome other speakers to share with the students their passion interest. It went well enough and now in 2014, I'm taking it up a notch and really making a bid to create a program that I can grow in time to benefit both the cycling culture of British Columbia and the health and integrity of communities I call home.”
Majo: “What exactly does your project consist?”
Ben: “Our project starts with an in-class workshop that helps mobilize students with the tools they need to pursue their passions. We discuss daily recreation, daily goals, the difference between dream goals and passion interests, as well as the importance of community, refining skills, and investing the time needed to build one's confidence. Afterwards, we introduce the students to a wide range of fun professions through a video series that covers the winter school months. These videos take students beyond the classroom and behind-the-scenes to showcase individuals who are actively pursuing their passions and achieving dream goals.”
Majo: “What is your vision through carrying this project?”
Ben: “To achieve my dream goals of course! Ha! Well I want to see a change in the way that we prepare our community's young people for the world ahead. I believe emphasis should be placed on the tools needed to achieve happiness, rather than tools for a successful job. In providing students with the appropriate tools and community, they can identify that which they are truly passionate about, sending them on the road to master that skill or project. I aim to promote the pursuit of skill mastery and tools that build resilient and connected communities; I believe in the power of driven and balanced people.”
Majo: “What motivates you to invest in this cause?”
Ben: “It is the fun of 'the game' right? Can you do something that you love to do... and in time become good enough to make a living at it? My goal is to bring in new inspirational speakers, or connect students with athletes or academics of a closer age in order to separate my own athletic success from the success of this project.”
Majo: “What would be your ultimate goal with B.I.K.E.S.?”
Ben: “To use this inspirational platform to link the existing cycling programs in Canada and British Columbia into a cohesive system that puts "butts in seats". There are many amazing programs out there that are doing an amazing job, but I know that there can be more cohesion and co-operation. Yes there are large social and economic barriers to making these changes happen or to increasing cycling's draw in our country, especially because of our northern climate but we need to look for programs that can engage students. By using cycling as a recreational outlet (or 'recess' as we say during our workshops) as part of a program that rewards both daily exercise and a project-based learning mentality for a given student's favourite curriculum units, I think there are some possibilities for the future... it's gotta be cool though!”
Majo: “What are the selection criteria for choosing the professionals you will interview and why?”
Ben: “I am looking for individuals who love what they do. I hope to introduce students to passions and careers that are multi-faceted, or that can evolve in time. That variability is attractive to a young person, nobody wants to pursue the time and effort it takes to perfect a skill set that will place one in a monotonous position. This year I am focused on professionals either in the environmental sciences, human physiology or artists with a unique story. One of the first episodes we filmed (hopefully we find the money to produce it!) featured Whistler landscape photographer Mark Richards, who switched careers only 8 years ago to follow his passion. Mark also uses cycling as a way to reach his shooting locations but often times his best work comes just from an unexpected view on the way to or from a planned shoot. These are the unique stories that I wish to share with the students.”
Majo: “What is the response so far from the students, teachers and parents involved in B.I.K.E.S.?”
Ben: “So far the response has been positive. I know that the teachers enjoy having me in the class and the students usually have fun too! But it is always an unknown after I leave the class as often times I don't have a chance to return due to my travel and racing schedule. I am hoping to partner with Cycling Canada or Cycling BC in the future so that we can connect their bike safety programs with BIKES, that way someone can come run a parking lot cyclocross course afternoon during April and May when I'm off racing. Of course our video episodes are also there to strengthen the message. One of the reasons I am focusing on grade 6-7 students this year is that I hope to capitalize on the power of social media, YouTube with cool episodes and shorter video updates from the road that answer student questions. Staying involved and maintaining momentum is key.”
Majo: “Thank you so much Ben for your interest in what I do and showcasing to the public the kinesiology services I provide at my office situated at the Whistler Athletes Centre.”
Ben: “Well you're the one who donated an entire afternoon for filming so thank you Majo! Your unique and diverse experience in the athletic and health realm were foundational in the improvements I made in the 2nd half of my season, culminating in a strong ride at the Tour of Alberta. I was happy to bring your energy for your work into the classes that I speak with.
If you and parents are interested in learning more about our program, come on down to Creekbread this Tuesday December 10th. We'll have a silent auction and all proceeds go towards the production of ten guest speaker episodes. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so at our online giving group. If you would like to affiliate your brand with our program, we are in search of a title sponsor or individual episode sponsorship. You can contact me here.
Thanks again for checking out our project. It takes a community to raise a child, and the BIKES project aims to connect your community.”
Here is B.I.K.E.S. 2014 Episode 1: