Independent Riders offer youth workshops
AS AN OLDER version of some of the disadvantaged youth in Maryborough, Sean Fisher just wants to help.
The Fraser Coast Independent Rider and school bus driver has pulled all his resources out to continue a program started last year with Fraser Coast Training Employment Support Service.
Better known as Fish, he helped run workshops in Tanner St where troubled teenagers were able to learn new skills and build their confidence.
Four of the six boys who joined the program last year were successful in finding jobs and apprenticeships.
They learned how to weld, fabricate and develop skills.
Fish said most of the teenagers were either taking drugs or alcohol or in an environment rife with it.
"The first kid I worked with ended up getting an apprenticeship as a boiler maker," Fish said.
"He was just a party animal, staying out and couch surfing - he ended up being at the workshop before I would arrive each morning.
"He was so keen to learn the inside of a motor and stig and welding; he was my number one go to guy."
Fish also helped another teen get a job in landscaping.
"I motivated him to go around to the nurseries and say how he had been working with us.
"He was super reliable and arrived on time; now he has his own flat, bought a bike and is saving money for a car and still has his job."
Kevin Delphin feels like a different person after starting the course late last year.
He didn't get to finish when it shut down, but is applying again and hopes to find a job and maybe one day teach.
"I had nothing else to do and I was too young for TAFE and school wasn't giving me the help that I needed," Kevin said.
"I learned to use all the tools in the shed, learnt bits and pieces of wiring, spray painting, welding."
The 15-year-old said Fish was a great teacher and friend.
"He helped me with confidence and talking to people, build my own stamina up.
"I have been able to do things I thought I would never have been able to do - I have been working on bikes at home."
Fish said the training centre which was officially opened Thursday last week was about training their brains.
"Training their minds and bodies to do stuff that they haven't done before," Fish said. "There is so much to learn and it will keep them occupied."
During their breaks Fish said he liked to chat to them about their weekends, finding out out what they like and don't like, what they do in their spare time.
"When they understand this bloke is just an older version - he's not so bad - he's just an old bloke with experience, that's when they start trusting.
"When I was 15 my brother said to me he would be surprised to see me live to be 21 and here I am at 58 and pretty surprised when I wake up with a pulse."
The training centre has been set up in the former Maryborough Bike Wreckers in Kent St, Maryborough owned by Shane Muller.
A free breakfast and lunch will be available to students.
There have been donations of small and large motors, vintage, outdoor and stripped down bikes that were given to them by the Maryborough and Hervey Bay police.
More are welcome.
"I just want to help as many kids as I can," Fish said. "I had a pretty upsetting childhood.
"My goal is to make a kid smile every day."
The Independent Riders Workshops will open Monday, March 18 and be open Monday-Friday from 8.45am-4pm.
For more information visit the workshop at 276 Kent St, Maryborough or fill out a referral form from ourcomm unityfrasercoast.com.au and click on workshop.