Pedal power helps vulnerable teenagers gain traction

First published 30 April 2020

Joe used to get bullied. He’s one of the many young people who face daily challenges well beyond their ability to cope.

“I used to get bullied and not want to go to school. But participating in the Traction program has really given me a boost,” said Joe.

Traction empowers vulnerable young people – typically facing a range of personal challenges including poverty, mental health issues, social isolation, Indigenous disadvantage, or challenging family environments – to experience a sense of success, self-esteem and a future of widened opportunities.

In 2019, with the support of QUT staff through the QUT Staff Community Welfare Fund, Traction was able to purchase portable bicycle stands, tools, and equipment necessary to expand the delivery of their mobile community outreach Bicycle Build and Maintenance workshops

Traction reaches communities through a number of pop-up workshops

Participants for Traction programs are referred by schools, community service organisations and government agencies, including child safety and youth justice branches. For youth worker Michael, the final day of the workshops is always, “one of the best days of the year.”

“When the young people finish building their bikes, they’re so keen to go riding, get out and about, and start going for jobs.” 

For Joe, “it showed me you can do anything you put your mind to.” He rides the bike that he built every day. 

In delivering hands-on workshops like the Bicycle Build Program, Traction reaches young people in need before they ‘fall through the cracks’. Participants get hands-on experience in bicycle building, repair, restoration and maintenance – either restoring bicycles donated by the community or building new bikes from scratch. The result is two-fold; participants not only develop job-ready skills, but also get to keep the bicycles they build. 

Hands-on bicycle building workshops help vulnerable teenagers develop practical and social skills

Typically 12 to 15 years of age, the young people who benefit from these workshops develop practical and social skills in a workplace-like environment and emerge with the confidence to re-engage at school and lead better lives. 

Traction is one of the many QUT Staff Giving supported charities well-defined outcomes but limited access to large funding bodies. Through small grants, the QUT Staff Community Welfare Fund helps care for some of the most vulnerable people in our Queensland community.