Curtin University is encouraging youth who have experienced hardship to consider higher education and training, through hands-on workshops and campus engagement activities.
Curtin’s Addressing Higher Educational Access Disadvantage (AHEAD) program has partnered with Dismantle Inc and Youth Futures WA Inc’s Anchor Point initiative to deliver Ride AHEAD @ Curtin – a five week bike rescue, mentoring, and university exposure program for 14 teenagers who have disengaged with the traditional education system.
Program coordinator Andrea Duncan said Ride AHEAD had taught the participants more than just what it was like to attend university and many leave the program with a renewed self-worth.
“Participants leave the program with a recycled bike they’ve built with their own two hands, using skills in mechanics, team work and resourcefulness learnt in the bike rescue component, as well as the satisfaction of recycling a bike for charity.” Ms Duncan said.
“Meanwhile, the university engagement component opens their eyes to other life opportunities and the realisation university is something they can aspire to.
“We’ve converted a disused sea container into a dedicated bike shed on campus so we can engage with more community partners and offer a direct on-campus university experience to those they support. It also allows current Curtin students a greater opportunity to get involved as mentors and volunteers.”
Across 10 full-day workshops, participants strip back and rebuild bikes, explore the Bentley campus, experience faculty facilities, learn about study pathways and course options, and learn how to lead a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. One-on-one career and pathway planning is provided and the community partner receives support to enhance its capacity to deliver career development to youth.
Ms Duncan said Ride AHEAD, which began in 2014 as a trial with a community partner off-site and offered on campus in 2015 for the first time with Anchor Point, provided a unique stepping-stone for inspiring youth into university study.
“The students we engage with provide feedback that the university environment can often be intimidating or seem out of reach. We hope positive experiences like our program will give young people a glimpse into a possible future if they pursue higher education.”
Curtin AHEAD engages with schools, communities and regional areas, to deliver activities that raise awareness and understanding of the long-term benefits of higher education.
For more information on Curtin AHEAD and to get your community group involved with Ride AHEAD, visit www.curtin.edu.au/ahead.