Soap Box Derby, activities set for Saturday

Activities targeted for middle school children will be offered at this year's Youth in Motion event Saturday.

Sponsored by the Steamboat Springs Rotary Club and the City of Steamboat Springs, Youth in Motion's main attraction is the Soap Box Derby, which will have 16 or 17 children racing their hand-built, gravity cars down Rockies Way.

But this year, the organizers wanted to involve as many children as possible who are not racing and decided to set up six different stations that would teach life skills through carnival-like games, chairman Ben Northcutt said.

"This year, we are trying to get more involvement," Northcutt said. "We have really simple activities and are giving rewards with prize drawings."

Six themes -- alcohol-abuse awareness, tobacco prevention and awareness, safe driving, community service, teamwork and healthy relationships -- will be highlighted through different carnival games.

Some of the different stations include driving a golf cart to learn how to get through a four-way-stop intersection, wearing goggles that simulate the impaired vision of someone who is intoxicated and trying to knock the head off of Mr. Tobacco with beanbags.

"It teaches them basic skills about driving and drinking and fits in well with Rotary's mission to serve the community," Northcutt said.

Children will be given a card to have stamped at each of the six stations, and they can enter that card into a prize drawing, which will occur at 2 p.m. Prizes include gift certificates to local businesses, a mountain bike and a free lodging package.

Incorporating the life skills lessons through carnival-like games was an idea the organizers have been working on for six or seven months as they tried to improve from the previous year. In 2003, the event incorporated motor cross and mountain bike races and a street hockey demonstration with the soap box derby.

"It was fun for the kids who did it," Northcutt said. "But nobody (else) showed up. We wanted to have something to do, so (people) will try to make an effort to come."

The highlighted event is the fourth annual Soap Box Derby; The winner continues on to the national finals in Akron, Ohio.

This year, about 16 or 17 children have registered to compete in the double elimination event in which cars can reach speeds of almost 30 miles per hour racing down Rockies Way.

Children are given a car kit to assemble the car and can spend anywhere from 10 to 60 hours preparing for the event, Northcutt said.

The two-axel, four-wheel cars have cables to control the brakes and steering mechanisms, but no engines. The children can apply their own custom paint scheme.

Although the shape of the car doesn't change, the winning advantage can be gained by the care with which the car is assembled, the skill of the driver and the size of the child.

"Some of the kids really take it very seriously," Northcutt said.

A concession stand with drinks and snack items will be at the event. If it rains that day, Northcutt said, the event will be moved to Sunday.

Alpine Bank, the Yampa Valley Community Foundation and Structural Associates also contributed to the event.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail

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