Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Tulsa Tough Kids...

Kids1 Presentations

Monday and Tuesday evenings, the Tulsa LCI group did Kids1 presentations at Webster High School and Carver Middle School in Tulsa. Actually, we're offering an amalgam of Kids1 and Kids2 in the League of American Bicyclists curriculum because the kids who attend these events will receive new bicycles through the Tulsa Tough program. We want them to be prepared to ride safely.

The LCI group consists of Ren Barger, Gary Parker, Brian Potter, and me for these events. We followed the Crime Commission's “Safe Escape” program which teaches kids how to avoid abduction. Safe Escape is a free presentation they offer to any interested organizations in the Tulsa area, and to be blunt, it's a tough act to follow. We're bland and boring by comparison.

Watching Gary and Ren work with the kids is always enjoyable. They both have the light touch that develops almost instant rapport. Brian does the 'expert instructor' role, and I provide comedy relief. I'm lucky to have straight guys like these.

We watched 'A Child's Eye View' which is a short video on cycling safety produced by LAB. Gary asks the kids to watch for the mistakes the kids in the video make, and they're on it like hawks. He doesn't tell them what to look for – he merely asks, “What did you see?” The kids don't miss much. They tell us of a kid riding on the wrong side of the road, running stops signs, riding without a helmet, and riding out onto the street without scanning for traffic first. Honestly, they didn't miss a single mistake.

I was lucky to have Jordan along on Monday evening. On the drive to Webster, I told him to expect a question about how taking Road1 and learning the rules of the road helped him when he took his driver's license test. Brian called on him during the lecture and Jordan responded very well. Afterward, six or eight kids gathered around to ask him more questions. The LCIs are impossibly old by kids standards, but Jordan is closer to their age and easily approachable. I think he was a bit surprised by the attention.

Today (Wednesday) we get to assemble those new bikes – all 300 of them. Last year, we had an enormous group of mechanics, box haulers, pizza technicians, and other support people. The team assembled 200 bikes in about 90 minutes. I'm hoping it goes as quickly tonight.

In May, we'll do the skills and drills portion and the kids will get their new bikes and helmets. That will be intense because we'll have 3 classes each day. After that, there's a planning meeting for the tech support staff, and the two-day Tulsa Tough event itself. I've been having short nights and long days already, and I'm only peripherally involved in the Tough. Those more centrally involved must be working their butts off!

So if you participate in any of these big events, whether it's a local charity ride or a big racing weekend, take a moment to thank the volunteers. And don't be surprised if you find one of us fast asleep in a chair during a quiet moment.

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