Seven young people aged between 12 and 25 who are currently involved in MercyCare’s youth and community services, such as the Amber Youth Wellness Program, recently participated in a group bike building workshop which is designed to help them connect with like-minded peers, build confidence and learn new skills.
Run by local not-for-profit youth organisation, Dismantled, the 10-week workshops involve participants refurbishing an old bike by pulling it apart, giving it a fresh coat of paint, then working together with the program organisers to rebuild it.
The idea to get the youngsters involved came from MercyCare Youth Mental Health Senior Case Worker Emily Jarvis, who was brainstorming interactive activities that would entice young people in their Amber Youth Wellness program.
After gauging interest in the workshop among young service users, Emily won a grant under the MercyCare CEO Innovation Fund.
Emily says the participants were drawn to the workshop because it provided them with a safe space to share their personal stories, connect with like-minded people, build confidence and skills and make new friends.
“Participants get the opportunity to build two bikes, one is given to charity and the other one they can opt to keep,” Emily says.
“It’s the perfect program for clients of Amber Youth Wellness as we are always looking for flexible ways to engage our young people who do not ‘fit’ mainstream services.”’
The workshop wrapped up on June 23 and saw seven young, eager participants take home their very own custom-built bike. They also worked together to rebuild children’s bikes to gift to families in need.
“Bike Rescue has been all about tapping into program that is engaging young people,” Emily says.
“We’ve definitely seen a huge improvement in engagement through this workshop, and now these young people want to come along to other social things we run through our Amber Youth Wellness program.
“We’ve seen young people build friendships, confidence and connect with one another.”
Dismantle program manager Lawson Smith says the organisation has been running its youth-centred workshops like BikeRescue for the past eight years.
“It’s always been about connecting young people with the kind of mentoring and support that helps them become more functional as a student or worker,” he says.
Jonathan, 22, and Deacon, 18, were among the young people who took part in the workshop.
“I love it, it’s a really good community program,” Jonathan says.
“I felt so comfortable in the group and I always felt cared for by the team. Even on the days I felt down in the dumps, coming to the workshops has been really good to lift my spirits.”
Deacon says painting his bike – which carried a galaxy look thanks to the splatters of paint – was his favourite part of the program.