Matt’s so proud to help teenagers

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - 24 - By MARK PEARSON

THIS week’s Pride in Peter­bor­ough award is cel­e­brat­ing the hard work and ded­i­ca­tion of city-born mo­tocross star Matt Barker.

Young­sters whose lives are in dan­ger of slip­ping off course are be­ing put back on the right track by the for­mer Bri­tish Cham­pion.

The trou­bled teenagers are be­ing taught to ride mo­tor­bikes, as well as learn­ing 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.

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.

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