On the first day of the Changing Gears program delivered to the students of Cire Mount Evelyn campus, new trainer Nikki Thompson arrived early. She encountered the school assembly that is a key part of the nurturing, positive curriculum. Students were praised for key achievements and great behaviour. It left Nikki with a smile as she set up her classroom and met students Alex, Brad, Zac, Isaac, Ethan and Billy.
Fifteen-year-old Ashden also attended, gaining the skills needed to pass the learner permit test and drive safely when he turns sixteen.
Testing booths have headphones and staff available to help
On the first day, some students were apprehensive about reading and answering the questions at their upcoming test.
Trainer Nikki explained, “There are head phones that you can put on at each VicRoads testing station. When you press a button, the questions and all the answers will be read to you. You can have them read as many times as you like.”
It was also explained that with a special booking, a VicRoads testing officer can sit with students, reading questions out and explaining any unknown words.
On the second day, some of the students, who were newer at Cire had experienced significant challenges the prior evening. But in testament to the commitment of the group, all attended on the second day.
Rearranging desks and refreshing information helped
It was a rainy day outside and at one point, students had difficulty concentrating so trainer Nikki got them all up. Together they rearranged desks and created an intersection. Nikki had each student drive through the ‘intersection’ doing right or left turns with some going straight ahead. This exercise allowed the students to use the rules of uncontrolled intersections to figure out who should go first, providing them with some practical experience for when they have passed their learner permit test and begun to drive.
The third day of the program proved to be a huge challenge for students as due to scheduling changes, the program was assigned a very small, hot room. Nikki was particularly proud of the students that day as they worked incredibly hard in difficult circumstances and scored well on their practice tests.
The day of test dawned gloomy, but the students were upbeat. Zoe from Yarra Junction joined the group as she had been unable to sit the test two weeks prior.
One student produced an Irish birth certificate and to her consternation, new trainer Nikki found this could not be accepted. As VicRoads Ringwood Manager Disna explained, “Those sitting the test must have their passport or immicard if they do not have an Australian birth certificate. We must have the correct forms of ID for applicants to sit their tests.”
Thanks to some helpful parents, the required passport and IDs were run to VicRoads Ringwood and all students were able to sit their tests.
All but one student passed, many with results in the high eighties and nineties. The unsuccessful student was provided with details on next steps so he too could experience the success of obtaining his learner permit in the near future.
Changing Gears program builds resilience
Once a group photo was taken, and student’s texted family members and friends, they returned on the bus to Mount Evelyn. Before they left, trainer Nikki addressed them,
“I’m so proud of you all,” she said, “you’ve have overcome tremendous difficulties and worked incredibly hard and I hope you are all proud of yourselves.”
The Changing Gears program helps build resilience as well as assisting young people to get their learner permit and drive safely. Says Head Trainer Linda Jane, “Learning common sense, safety and persistence is part of the licensing journey. If at first they don’t succeed, students are encouraged to persist with practice tests until they feel ready, book another test and sit it. They can be confident they have the tools to succeed.”
Pictured from left: Proud Cire Mount Evelyn learner drivers Ethan, Billy, Brad, Isaac, Zac, Alex and Zoe (from Yarra Junction, squatting in front) with VicRoads Ringwood Centre Manager Disna (far right) and team members (right and far left). Changing Gears Trainer Nikki (squatting centre), also accompanies Cire Mount Evelyn team member Tom. (third from left).
Possibilities open up
Driving opens up so many possibilities for disadvantaged young people. Classes are supportive, students and trainers inspire each other, showing the way for young people to overcome their obstacles to driving and experience success.
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Call 1-800-766-361 to find out about your nearest Changing Gears learner permit program..