PCYC in a drive to help youth
HELPING teenagers without access to a family car or a job to pay for driving lessons is the driving force behind the 'Braking the Cycle' program run by Ipswich PCYC.
Ange Watts, PCYC Development Officer, said the program started in Ipswich and Logan four years, after a conversation between the two clubs how to help young people get their driver's licence.
"We sought funding for the program, it is not cheap to start something like this, and we were able to access the money we needed," Ms Watts said.
Now in operation at 14 sites around Queensland, Ms Watts said Ipswich has four cars, two automatics and two manuals, with another automatic car dedicated to the Lowood area.
"Lowood also shares a manual with us in Ipswich."
To make the program work, Ms Watts said volunteer mentors from the community take young people for driving sessions, allowing them to accrue their hours.
"We offer them help in getting their Restricted Driving Authority and also their Blue Card, as well as technical training at the Police Academy, and in return they help out for as many hours per week as they can."
Ms Watts said the mentors also do night driving, to help the participants reach the necessary target.
While the program is free for the participants, Ms Watts said they must pay for their tests and provisional licence.
"We have had 138 participants get their licence already, the majority have achieved it at their first attempt."
With the cars out on the road an average of 44 hours per week, Ms Watts said service and maintenance must also be factored into the program.
"Our cars have done the equivalent of driving around the world five times, but we get great support from Llewellyn's Motors, they service the cars for free."
Jayden Vaughan of Ipswich is one participant benefiting from the program, and has now recorded 30 hours of driving.
"It is pretty good to have someone give me pointers, without this program, it would be a lot harder to get my licence," Mr Vaughan said.
"If I get my Ps, I can travel to jobs."
Also doing a mechanical training course at Ipswich PCYC, Mr Vaughan said he needs to be able to drive.
"Everyone is good to work with, I don't have access to a car normally."
Driving mentor Doug Loats got involved after watching the program develop, and decided to join as a mentor.
"I do three sessions of two hours each week, but it is about doing what you can," Mr Loats said.
"There is no special training, but I did a session at the Police Academy, I learned about the limitations of the cars, as well as how to set the car up for the students, practical driving situations and a road rule refresher."
Mr Loats said he enjoys the program 'greatly'.
"It's enjoyable, it can be a challenge, but it is wonderful, the most rewarding part is seeing the reaction when the kids get their licence, we go with them, just seeing the number on the wall, knowing we got another one home."
Ms Watts said more mentors are always welcome, especially women.
"There are some situations where a lady is preferable, it might be working with a young girl, but we also have some special needs participants, who respond better to a woman mentor."
To get involved, call Ange Watts on 0433 769 407.