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Little Bikers program to help educate youth again

A young Flip City Gym-Preschool student climbs across a large motorcycle during last year’s Little Bikers event. The educational event, meant to teach young children about motorcycles and how to watch for them, will involve Thursday, Sept. 19 visits to Flip City and to Cottonwood Community School. VVN/File photo

A young Flip City Gym-Preschool student climbs across a large motorcycle during last year’s Little Bikers event. The educational event, meant to teach young children about motorcycles and how to watch for them, will involve Thursday, Sept. 19 visits to Flip City and to Cottonwood Community School. VVN/File photo

COTTONWOOD — Just before hundreds of loud motorcycles roar into the west end of the Verde Valley, a handful of noisy bikes will head to two locations in west Cottonwood to show the youngest citizens what two-wheeling is all about.

For the third time in as many years, the Little Bikers Event will help teach preschoolers and gradeschoolers about motorcycles.

Led by Cottonwood City Councilor and longtime motorcycle enthusiast Deb Aulthouse and others, the Modified Motorcycle Association of Arizona and American Legion Post 25 will help educate youth with fun presentations.

Presentations at Flip City Gym-Preschool and at Cottonwood Community School will take place Thursday, Sept. 19 — just before Cottonwood is inundated with motorcycles for the 2019 Thunder Valley Rally weekend.

“We’re learning that training adults and new drivers about how to watch out for motorcycles is tough, but essential, and getting young people involved helps, too,” Aulthouse said. “We figure if we teach kids to listen for and, more importantly, watch for motorcycles now, by the time they start driving as teens, they’ll already be in the habit of locating them on the roads.”

Fun “slug-bug”-type games, stickers, coloring books and more are teaching aides riders will use when they head to two locations in Cottonwood on Sept. 19.

Althouse said the 2017 event took place at Flip City, while last year, Cottonwood Community School was brought in. This year, the group will split up and go to both schools, meeting at Legion Post 25 on Calvary Way in Cottonwood at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 19, departing for the two destinations with “kickstands up” at 10:30 a.m.

Motorcyclists are invited to meet at the Legion and participate in the education process. Eight- to 10-page motorcycle awareness coloring books will be provided by the City of Cottonwood, which hosts Thunder Valley Rally.

Althouse said the message for preschoolers at Flip City will be kept basic, mostly emphasizing to students how loud the bikes will be in town. At Cottonwood Community School, she said, the visitors will be training slightly older children more “how-to” on spotting and reacting to motorcycles.

“The kids get to sit on the bikes and interact with us,” Aulthouse said. “We usually have bikes of all kinds — even trikes.” Roger Scarem of the Cottonwood Police Department is typically involved with the event.

An American Legion Facebook post says the groups always have the women riders arrive first to show bikers are not all men.

“We like to show how many types of adults ride, and that we’re real people, who often live in their neighborhoods — not just scary creatures,” Althouse said.

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