Cottonwood Oak Creek School District – Wheel Fun Valley Verde Public School Youth Cycling Program
"The annual Arizona Out-of-School Time Awards of Excellence recognized innovative out-of-school time programs and staff member for their exemplary work in providing and promoting quality youth development programs for Arizona’s children. Wheel Fun received this prestigious award earlier today at the Arizona Center for Afterschool Excellence’s 30th Annual School’s Out, Make It Count Conference at the Phoenix Convention Center. Included with the award was a Commendation signed by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and $500.00. A huge thank you Wheel Fun's 41 volunteer coaches who create the magic every day"
~Wheel Fun Facebook Post Oct. 22, 2022
Almost everyone has a memory with a bike: whether it's their first bike, or when they learned to ride, or the freedom felt when riding. Bikes do amazing things for people:
"Get a bicycle. You will not regret it, if you live." -Mark Twain
"I thought of that while riding my bicycle." -Albert Einstein
"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and can coast down them." -Ernest Hemingway
`Nothing compares to the simple pleasures of a bike ride." -John F. Kennedy
Wheel Fun has given opportunities to kids throughout Cottonwood Oak Creek School District, and now throughout the state. These kids are riding bikes. These kids are growing in confidence. These kids are learning teamwork, and leadership skills, all because of Mountain Bike Club.
Wheel Fun and the 21st CCLC Programs have been partnering in the Cottonwood Oak Creek schools for four years now. Wheel Fun volunteer coaches have been doing amazing work with our district's kids for over six years! We'd like to thank and congratulate Wheel Fun for being awarded the annual Arizona Out-Of-School time Award of Excellence. This award recognizes innovative out-of-school time programs and staff members for their exemplary work in providing and promoting quality youth development programs for Arizona's children. Thank you, Wheel Fun, for all you do for our after-school kids!
Over Fall Break, Wheel Fun partnered with Sedona Mountain Bike Academy, and the district's 21st CCLC programs (Oak Creek School, Dr. Daniel Bright School, and Cottonwood Community School) to host a mountain bike camp for all schools in the district. The opportunity was free to all riders, and they learned exceptional skills to bring them to the next level! The camp involved technical skills, trail riding, and fun on the amazing John McCain Memorial Bike Skills Park at Oak Creek School. The kids are getting opportunities they would never have if it were not for the partnerships and volunteers that give their time and love for mountain biking to the next generation.
It is truly a beautiful site to see! Thank you, Wheel Fun, for all you do for kids! There are countless stories I could share with you; of the miracles and amazing moments I have witnessed because of this partnership:
I have seen kids who have never been on a bike before, get up and ride. Their eyes full of surprise that they could ever do such a thing.
I have seen kids who have never ridden far, take to the trails for miles on end, and come back with smiles, shocked that they could ride that far.
I have seen children give aid to fellow teammates... because that's what the culture of mountain bike teaches.
I have seen kids grow into leaders because of the simple act of being given a chance to lead in their club.
My own son has depth perception limitations because of blindness in one eye. He has grown in confidence because of the friendships made with the volunteer coaches of Wheel Fun.
How does this even happen? I will tell you firsthand, that it is because of opportunities. Opportunities after school. Opportunities that give life to these kids. That is truly what after school programming is. It is an opportunity to grow our children into more. It is to give them a memory with a bike.
~Teddy Armstrong, District Coordinator 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District