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Battling with anxiety and social isolation
Erica Weir has never felt more confident since she joined Mas National’s TRAILS program in Adelaide.
The 21-year-old came to the program after experiencing severe anxiety, social isolation and was long-term unemployed. Wanting to get out of her comfort zone, she decided to give the TRAILS program a go.
Erica along with 12 other participants learnt a range of soft and hard skills from building bike trails, maintaining bikes and caring for parklands before setting off hit the jumps and learn tricks as a reward, “It was good to learn about maintenance of the bikes as well as the tracks we were riding on. The program was a lot of fun to experience and it was a great team of people teaching you along the way,” Erica said.
Using the power of bike riding to build confidence
TRAILS, run by Mas National (Part of the IntoWork Group), is a program designed for young people aged 16 to 24 at risk of entering the youth justice system across Adelaide. The team from Lighthouse Youth Projects (LYP), which consists of former and current pro BMX bike riders and youth mentors, took participants on a journey of personal change. For two days a week, mentors challenged negative behaviours and worked with participants to develop their life skills and employability through a range of hands-on lessons, mentoring, training and work exposure – leading to employment and training outcomes at the end of the program.
In the 3 months she was actively involved in the program, Erica has made strides towards reaching her goals. She gained a First Aid certificate and secured employment at Hindmarsh Liquorland. As a reward for her outstanding efforts, she was awarded her very own bike by Lighthouse Youth Projects to help her get to work, “People should definitely give the program a go. You meet a lot of people while you’re there and learn a lot of skills that you can actually use and to help you into employment. If you are in some kind of rut like I was, it’s a really great program to be a part of. None of us ever expected me to go into retail but it’s given me a new respect for people who do work in retail, I’m loving it so far.”
Program Coordinator Paul Kitchen said while Erica was very socially shy at the start of the program, she grew so much confidence towards the end, “She had never done any manual work so the trail building and riding of bikes was a first on the TRAILS program. At the end, she was not afraid to speak up or share her opinion with the group and now she’s a confident young lady who has started her first job at Liquorland. Well done to Erica and the entire TRAILS team for helping her build that level of confidence to move onto employment,” he said.