WHEN the time came for Mary Mahipus to learn how to drive, the Ipswich teenager was stuck finding someone to teach her.
"My parents were busy with work and they weren't able to help me get up the 100 hours that I needed for my licence," she said.
Worried about how she would achieve this mammoth task, Mary wondered how she would ever learn the necessary skills she would need to move up from her learner licence to her provisional licence.
Luckily, Mary was able to receive help from a dedicated program that has been designed to help young people just like her.
Mary, now 17, took part in the Ipswich PCYC Braking the Cycle program. Braking the Cycle is about overcoming the difficulties young people from disadvantaged backgrounds face in obtaining a licence and employment. It aimes to empower young people to not only get their licence, but also to break the cycle of welfare, unemployment, and antisocial behaviour.
During the program, teens are paired up with qualified supervisors who assist them in learning to drive safely and boost their confidence.
"Without this program, I wouldn't have been able to complete all my hours," the 17-year-old said.
"They really teach you how to drive properly and safely."
Mary is just one of the hundreds of young people who have benefited.
Ipswich PCYC development officer Angela Watts said there were many young people in the city who were disadvantaged when it came to learning how to drive a car.
"There are many kids out there who don't have access to a car or a driver to help them get the required 100 hours of driving time," she said.
"There are also a lot of young people who are homeless or couch surfing.
"By us helping them to get their licence, they will be able to get to TAFE or to work, especially in areas where public transport is limited."
To make sure the program continues to be a success, the Ipswich PCYC are urgently seeking more volunteers from the local community who can dedicate their time to helping the region's youth.
"We currently have around 40 volunteers who help with the Braking the Cycle program we have here in Ipswich, Lowood and Boonah. We have also just started up the program in Redbank Plains," she said.
"But the more volunteers we have, the more people we will be able to help. We can never have too many volunteers."
To be eligible, volunteers must have had their open licence for more than 12 months, have a relatively good driving record, and be able to get a Blue Card, although the PCYC will be able to help you with that.
Ipswich City Council partnered with Ipswich PCYC to help bring the driver mentor program to Redbank Plains.
If you are able to help, phone Ipswich PCYC on 3281 2547.