An alternative approach pays off
Two wheels good
Finding motivation for youngsters who have found difficulty in continuing mainstream education is a challenge.
Social, behavioural, emotional or academic issues can leave them sidelined, unable to develop useful skills and knowledge that are necessary to prepare them for later life. It was recognition of this problem that led to an imaginative solution being proposed back in 2000. The approach would provide an alternative educational platform, one that would engage these young people in a programme that would educate and motivate. Hence the Motocross Challenge Project charity (MXCP) was born.
Now it’s unlikely that Motocross would immediately spring to mind as the stepping stone to building an alternative education centre, but that’s what the original group of visionaries in Kent were proposing. The idea was simple. Placing these young people back into a typical classroom setting with a traditional style curriculum was a non starter. What they proposed was the creation of an alternative teaching environment, using the sport of motocross as a means to engage with teenagers to teach practical and functional skills, build self-esteem, increase confidence and improve social skills. And it’s worked.
Since its foundation 18 years ago, hundreds have attended the MXCP course. Their alternative curriculum delivers core life skills classes which build competencies in Maths and English, personal fitness, even extends to cooking, alongside training in the workshop and ultimately learning to ride the motocross bikes they’ve been helping to maintain. The sessions are short and with small group sizes. Students can work at their own pace with all the support, assistance and encouragement they need. Furthermore the unique setting utilises a dynamic teaching method to engage them on a level that benefits them and that can be tailored to their individual needs.
You might imagine that Motocross would be something that would attract a predominantly male following but practice proves otherwise. Young women form a substantial part of the student base.
Run by the founder Ric Newton and his wife Charlotte, the programme is recognised as an ASDAN (Award Scheme Development and Accreditation Network). MXCP also supports its attendees and helps them onto the next stage of further training, volunteering or employment. Currently they offer two courses for 16-18 and 16-20 year olds. They require the students to attend for between one to three days a week over a minimum of six to ten weeks, after which they obtain their ASDAN certificate which in turn opens up for them a future with options and choices that might otherwise not have been open to them.
Judging by the outcomes recorded for their students, the scheme continues in its modest way to be a success story. MXCP is a role model that proves that sometimes, to use that over used expression, “thinking outside of the box” really can work, particular when dealing with young people, who often through no fault of their own, have become distanced from mainstream education.
As a charity MXCP are always looking for new sources of funding in order that they can continue their valuable work. Whilst they receive support from NGK, Michelin and Suzuki, they are constantly looking to find additional funding . As Ric says:
“It’s a constant battle, even more so in the current economic climate, but we’ve lasted 19 years and are not going to give up now having seen what can be achieved with these youngsters.”
If you’d like to find out more visit their website at http://www.mxcp.co.uk. Needless to say any donations would be gratefully received.
For these youngsters, their encounter with two wheels has been very much for the better and we wish teachers and students, past and present, a very bright future.