Maximising passion to transform lives
I take 3 young people (R, L and G) to the Wheels Project. They are in families I support as a key worker for the Connecting Families Service.
R (14yrs) started the Wheels Project in September 2018 after I introduced it to him and his family. He has ADHD and is finding the school environment a struggle. This has resulted in several temporary exclusions and R being close to a permanent exclusion.
I found out early on in my work with R that he has a passion for motorsports, especially racing and Formula 1 and when we talked about this during 1:1 sessions he would become animated and talk enthusiastically. R is a young carer for his mum who has a chronic disability. This gives him added stress at home so Wheels gives him a break from this role and a chance to participate in an activity he enjoys.
R has engaged fully with Wheels from the start, he has used the skills learned to work on his own mini moto bike at home. R would like a career in motor mechanics so this course gives him a great insight into what skills are needed and a good foundation of knowledge to start with. Carrying on from Wheels he has already found a school work experience placement in a local garage for next year.
R has said that he enjoys his time at Wheels as it gives him a positive activity where he can learn in an environment which suites him. R’s confidence has grown during his time at Wheels and he is finding there are benefits to participating in an activity which he can focus on and see a positive outcome from his work. This is a contrast to his time spent in school where his lack of concentration and focus results in sanctions.
R’s relationship with members of his family have improved during his time at Wheels, this is especially evident with his mum who he is a carer for. She has seen him come home from Wheels with a more positive attitude and full of enthusiasm for the future.
L (14yrs) is in alternative provision after being permanently being excluded from mainstream education. He’s had no experience of mechanics or karting and was apprehensive at first. I used the time travelling to Wheels as a way of engaging in conversation with him. L finds difficulty in expressing his emotions verbally so the trip in the car is a perfect way to engage with him.
The Wheels Project has offered L the chance to experience working as a team with other young people. There were some tensions between L and another young person on the course whereby comments were made and offense was taken. This was something that followed a dispute they had in the community. L felt he was being unfairly targeted by this young person and started to make comments inferring that he would retaliate in some way. L and the young person were spoken to by CF staff and the rules for attending the project were outlined. There have been no further comments made and no incidents have taken place. L has found a connection with his uncle who is his main carer, their shared enjoyment of motor sport and mechanics has bought their relationship closer together.
G (14yrs) completed the Wheels Project last year and reached the BSKC competition at Thruxton with the 3 other team members who are also attending the project again this year. He got ‘back into the driving seat’ without any issues. His times on the track were as good as last year and he’s even reached his personal best.
G did have a problem around the fifth week when he told his mum he was finding it difficult balancing his school work with his commitment to Wheels. Mum asked if I could help find a resolution with school whereby G could continue Wheels and his timetable could be changed. She could see the benefits of Wheels on Gabe, siting the improvement in his mental health and a massive increase in his confidence.
G took a short time out of Wheels in order to catch up on his school work. I organised a meeting between myself, G, his mum, the deputy head and a CF manager. The outcome from the meeting was that he could continue with a changed timetable. This demonstrates to me that G showed the maturity in dealing with a problem, that he has the confidence speaking in a meeting and how much he values the project.
The three young people have particularly enjoyed working on the vehicle that will be donated to the Foodbank. They were interested to hear how it would be used from a speaker from the charity and I imagine they will feel a sense of pride when the work has been completed and the vehicle handed over. The three young people and their families have benefited from the Foodbank so they had some knowledge of the charity.
Find out more about The Wheels Project by exploring the Feeder Canal Route on Bristol Giving Day.