Troubled teens ride on to the right track
YOUNGSTERS whose lives are in danger of slipping off course are being put back on the right track by a former British champion.
Peterborough-born motocross star Matt Barker is helping troubled teenagers from across the city to turn their lives around by teaching them how to ride motorbikes, and how to repair and maintain them.
The youngsters, who have been referred to take part in the Alternative Curriculum Education (ACE) programme by their schools or the Youth Offending Service, get the chance to pick up nationally recognised qualifications.
The project is running at the former Lincoln Road Boys’ School, where along with motocross, classes are held in a variety of subjects, from hairdressing to woodwork.
Today, Matt (25), who won the British Motocross championship aged 15, said he was loving the opportunity to help the youths, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
He said: “I’ve been riding since I was four, and racing since I was six, so this is a great opportunity to pass on my experience to people.
“It is also a fantastic project as it gives youngsters the chance to learn to ride bikes in a safe environment without the threat of having police come and take them home at the end of the night.”
The classes cater for youngsters with a variety of experiences and abilities – from rookies to experienced riders.
Matt, from Woodston, said: “We have a number of different bikes here. We have mini-motos, which are perfect for beginners, as it doesn’t hurt as much if you fall off, and also don’t have gears. We also have some bigger bikes for people to try, and some of the riders are starting to look very talented.
“At the moment we just look at teaching the basic skills, with a few obstacle courses to ride, but we are looking at getting some more land where we can get a proper motocross track so they can learn to race as well.”
Director of the project Les Carrick said: “It is fantastic to help children who otherwise would not be able to get qualifications.
“Some of the students we have had have been told they would not get any qualifications at school, but leave here with more than 25 certificates.”
ACE will be holding a number of summer courses open to youngsters aged 12 to 16 this year.
For more information, call 01733 897919.
HOPE FOR THE FUTURE: Pictured, from left, are Dalton Leedell (14), Jordan Scudamore (15), Jordan Butler (14), who are learning motorcycle mechanics and bike handling skills with, back, from left, tutors Les Carrick, Les Baptiste and former champion rider Matt Barker, at Lincoln Road Community Centre as part of the Alternative Curriculum Education programme.