Lighthouse Youth Projects: striving to give every child the chance to be amazing

Co-founders of Lighthouse Youth Projects, Jamie Moore and Ryan Lloyd share a longstanding love of BMX and cycling, borne of a lifetime spent riding trails, tackling jumps, performing tricks and forming lasting friendships through a love of bikes.

With a wealth of industry experience behind them and a passion for living life to the fullest, these two dads harnessed their mutual love of riding and the benefits and life skills it can bring, and created Lighthouse Youth Projects. The registered charity, volunteer supported, not-for profit organisation was founded with the vision to inspire disadvantaged young people, supporting them into positive pathways through bicycle-based mentoring and life skills programs.

We chat with Jamie about the inspiration behind Lighthouse, and how they’re helping disadvantaged young people in our state and beyond.

Tell us about Lighthouse Youth Projects. What inspired you to start a not-for-profit directed at helping young people?

Ryan and I set up Lighthouse Youth Projects with the vision to give every child in Australia, regardless of their disadvantage, the opportunity to ride a bike with someone passionate enough to care, willing to see their potential and to encourage them to make a change for the better.
I met Ryan, who is one of Australia’s best freestyle riders, while I was running a bike distribution business. We started riding together, with Ryan in a sponsored role and myself as an advocate. In 2013, Ryan broke his back overshooting a BMX jump and around the same time, my business failed. For both of us, these life changing events prompted us to really work out what mattered most. Both having a wealth of experience riding bikes, we wanted to share that with people; we wanted to create something that would enable us to pass on this love of riding and its many benefits, to the next generation of young people, particularly those with a background of disadvantage.
As soon as we started working in the juvenile justice system, I truly realised that so many young lives are wasted and if someone doesn’t step in and try to help, then everybody loses, not just the child.

Can you tell us what positive benefits bike riding has, and how your work helps disadvantaged kids?

We believe that bicycles can change lives and be a springboard to a new, positive way of living. Riding is something that most people seem to enjoy, and a lot of people probably take the physical ability to actually ride a bike for granted. It’s not uncommon for the kids we work with to have never ridden before, or to have never had someone in their lives who was willing or able to teach them to ride a bike. Riding is the most efficient way a human can move across the earth under their own power so it’s a very effective metaphor to show positive change and encourage good habits too.

Can you tell us about the programs Lighthouse offers?

We are lead contractors in two federally funded programs, Cycle of Change and RIDE, which have successfully targeted youth unemployment by way of bicycle-based mentoring. These programs run every day of the week in both South Australia and Tasmania.
We also run an ongoing ‘Behind Bars’ program, working with young people who have become involved with the juvenile justice system. This involves school holiday mentoring and programs to help the residents adapt better once they are on the outside, with an aim to help these kids in accessing opportunities to participate productively in the community.
We also facilitate Concrete Sessions at Oaklands skate park every fortnight. These are open to the general public, bikes and helmets are available to borrow free of charge, and we welcome people to come down, have a warm meal and hang out in a stress-free environment.

Can you share some success stories about kids you’ve worked with?

Seeing a young man called Ben from Munno Para finally start to ride on his own after persevering and trying so hard but with limited success, was simply amazing; the look on his face is something I will never forget. Another story that springs to mind is a young person we worked with, Dale, who came to us in Cycle of Change with no idea whatsoever about “what to do with his life”. After working and riding with him for a year, he graduated the Cycle of Change program and started an apprenticeship with Aldom Motor Body Builders. He always texts me the photos of what he is working on, and this type of connection is just so rewarding for all of us.

What are your personal highlights over your time mentoring disadvantaged kids?

There are so many, to be honest, it’s hard to pick! I think one of the best things I can be involved in is seeing someone ride a bike on their own for the first time. It never gets old and we know that for them, the adventure is just about to start! Also seeing someone who has been involved in the juvenile justice system making a positive change and being released. For me, that’s a moment when I think “well, someone didn’t give up on that kid, and that might have been the only time that’s ever happened”.

What’s coming up for Lighthouse?

This year we started delivering our RIDE program in Tasmania, so for us working in another state is pretty exciting. We will also be doing a lot more Get Stoked! riding sessions across SA and TAS and that’s a great way we can connect and ride with more disadvantaged kids, hopefully spreading a positive message along the way.

How can people get involved and help out with Lighthouse Youth Projects?

As a volunteer driven organisation, the more hands on deck, the more opportunity we have to help as many kids as possible. We are always eager to hear from skilled professionals in their field who could have an integral role in helping us to help others. We encourage people to visit our website and fill out the volunteer form, and we’ll get in touch!

Want to help? Lighthouse Youth Projects are always on the lookout for donations of second hand, usable mountain bikes or BMX bikes for their programs. Please contact Jamie and Ryan via the LYP website if you have something you’d like to donate!

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