Joel* started with the BikeRescue program after a rough period in his personal life. Things at home were troubled, with a number of worrying events taking place, and then his best mate was hospitalised. School quickly became the least of his worries. Joel was often absent from classes, and when he was there, he remained quite distracted and disengaged.
Then he started BikeRescue. Immediately, Joel became completely engrossed in the task of stripping, refurbishing and rebuilding bikes. He has a real passion for riding and fixing motorbikes, which he talked about often during the sessions, and his skills really shone through. He took enormous pride in his work and did a great job on his bikes.
Joel’s mood and energy levels fluctuated significantly throughout the program, however. Sometimes, after a big weekend, he would show up “tired”, and this could have quite an impact on his motivation to participate. Even at these times, though, he was always up for a chat with one of the BikeRescue mentors and managed to maintain skilful work.
One session, a few weeks in, he started opening up to one of the mentors about some of the issues he’d been facing. He said he was “feeling like crap, all the time”. The mentor explained how helpful it can be to discuss anxious and depressed thoughts with someone trusted. The process of talking, the mentor pointed out, will actually allow him to understand and work through the issues.
Initially, Joel wasn’t keen to pursue help. Gradually, though, he came around to the idea, and he and the mentor made a plan to talk to a youth worker he trusted about accessing counselling.
Joel started to build up arsenal of tools and language for dealing with what he was going through. At one point in the program, there was a group discussion held about about stress and coping mechanisms. Joel preferred not to contribute, but later used the language he had learned to recognise and talk about some destructive coping strategies he had been using to improve his mood. He then worked with the mentor to problem solve and figure out some healthy alternatives.
Joel’s story really illustrates what Dismantle is all about. When things are looking bleak for a young person, sometimes it just takes someone to lend an open ear and a helping hand. At Dismantle, we send in bike mechanic youth workers, armed with a spanner, a heart, and a passion for kids doing it tough.
It’s a little unorthodox maybe, but it works. And for kids like Joel, it can mean a whole new way of solving personal problems and moving forward with life.
*Name has been changed