Verde Valley Wheel Fun promotes children’s interest in mountain biking
“It makes them take off their cell phones,” says Kevin Adams, co-founder of Verde Valley Wheel Fun, of the kids in his program. Based in the Sedona-Oak Creek area, this is a multi-faceted project for students in grades three through 12 that promotes interest and participation in all aspects of mountain biking.
Established in 2019, the Arizona Qualified Charitable Organization oversees the program, which provides free bikes, helmets, hydration packs and training to participating students. Adams recruits his riders from after-school mountain bike clubs, school vacation camps, and Riding for Focus, a college physical education program. The organization also develops cycling skill parks on public school grounds.
“What we’re trying to do is increase children’s confidence by developing their skills,” says VVWF CEO Brad Viereck. “During fall camp, the confidence level went from maybe 10 to 60. The younger kids see the older riders doing jumps and they’re like, ‘I can do this.'”
Camp participants learn basic biking skills and safety protocols through games, individual and group coaching, and organized rides.
“We teach kids how to prepare and how to be safe,” says Jen Mabery, the program’s coach. “They learn who has the right of way as well as proper trail and road etiquette. It’s kind of like herding cats, but I tell you what, I think what’s best for us is that energy. How we talk to kids is really important. We’re picking them up!”
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