Bike pro­gram puts youth on right track

Southern Telegraph - - News - Hay­ley God­dard

In an ef­fort to di­vert youth from crime and re­con­nect them with ed­u­ca­tion and the com­mu­nity, Dis­man­tle Inc. has been op­er­at­ing a pi­lot bike restora­tion pro­gram in Rock­ing­ham.

Dis­man­tle youth worker Lou Carey said the pro­gram was suc­cess­ful, with all of the par­tic­i­pants — mostly boys aged 14 or 15 — com­mit­ting to the manda­tory six work­shop ses­sions and re­turn­ing vol­un­tar­ily to fin­ish the pro­gram.

“As a re­sult, one child who had moved out of the fam­ily home was able to re­con­nect with their mum, move back home and is now go­ing back to school,” she said.

“The re­sults will be whether the par­tic­i­pants come into con­tact with the ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem in the next three, six or 12 months.”

She said the work­shop was bur­gled and new tools stolen early on in the pi­lot pro­gram, re­in­forc­ing to man­age­ment the need for the di­ver­sion pro­gram in Rock­ing­ham.

Ms Carey said the pro­gram in­volved strip­ping down old bikes to re­store and re­pair the parts be­fore build­ing one for char­ity and, if par­tic­i­pants wanted to con­tinue, one for them­selves.

By op­er­at­ing out­side the typ­i­cal youth work en­vi­ron­ment, Ms Carey said par­tic­i­pants were more in­clined to open up about their home lives.

“It’s de­signed to em­power them to recog­nise what is go­ing on in their life and how they got in­volved in the ju­ve­nile jus­tice sys­tem,” she said.

“So­cial me­dia has made to­day’s youth more highly dis­con­nected than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion and Dis­man­tle op­er­ates as the con­duit to get them back on track. It’s pre­dom­i­nantly about see­ing them as a whole per­son, as­sess­ing their life — not just the crim­i­nal side — and pro­vid­ing them with pos­i­tive role mod­els and men­tors.”

She said the not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion was con­nected with sup­port agen­cies in the re­gion.

Dis­man­tle has had a stel­lar sec­ond half to the year, em­ploy­ing more staff to ex­pand its ser­vices, and has been nom­i­nated with Save the Chil­dren and Angli­care for the this year’s WA Youth Awards on Novem­ber 27.

Pic­ture: Hay­ley God­dard

Dis­man­tle youth worker Lou Carey says the group’s bike shed pro­gram has helped to di­vert at-risk youth away from crime and re­con­nect them with fam­ily and ed­u­ca­tion.

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