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The best Ramadan present ever.

From left to right: excited learner drivers Haya, Jjya, Ilhan, Olivia and Gitika with Meri-bek case worker Steve, (right), and Trainer Nikki, (centre front), inside VicRoads Coolaroo.

Wednesday, April 17th saw trainer Nikki head to the Glenroy Community Hub to deliver the Changing Gears program to students Gitika, Haya, Jiya, Olivia and Ilhan. The group was a very polite, quiet and studious one. They were attended by Case Worker Steve, who welcomed the students alongside Nikki as they arrived.

The group swelled to five. Once they were settled, they dove into their resource books quickly learning about the two second following rule and stopping distances. Nikki used a measuring device to show the students a 142-metre stopping distance, that which is required to stop at 100km/hour.

“You can see how far it is,” Nikki commented as she walked the students out of the front gate to the REALM library and well beyond, along the footpath.

Fasting for Ramadan

When the group headed back for lunch, Nikki was a little surprised that there were not snacks for the students. However, she soon realised that many of the participants were participating in Ramadan, Islam’s period of fasting and quiet self-reflection.

“Sorry Steve, I should have realised,” Nikki apologuised sheepishly, “but the nice thing is that they will end their month-long fast at sundown on Friday. So not only will they be able to feast, but they will have their learner permits to celebrate as well!”

Both things were certainly something to look forward to, and the students worked towards their common goal with exceptional diligence.

Aizah enters the group

On Wednesday afternoon, Steve had some news for trainer Nikki,

“We have another student, Aizah. She did the course last year and she’d like to come and sit her test with the other students,” he explained.

“That’s great,” trainer Nikki replied, “but as we have done with the other participants, I need to check that all Aizah’s paperwork is in order for VicRoads. I’d also like her to come in on Thursday just to make sure she is ready to sit her test.

Thursday morning saw Aizah attend. Not only was her paperwork all perfect, but she proved that she was well prepared for the test on Friday.

Everyone got 100% three times and went home early

This quickly became the case for the rest of the group as well. So when Nikki set a challenge of getting 100 percent three times in a row in practice tests everyone meet it and was allowed to leave early as a reward.

“Seeing these results, I’m really confident the end of Ramadan is going to be a really good day for all these young people,” Nikki told Steve.

The day of the test dawned fresh and clear. Nikki met the excited students and two of their mothers at VicRoads, Coolaroo.

Nikki meets Sue and Laura of Coolaroo VicRoads

“Hi Nikki, I’m Sue,” said the lady working behind the VicRoads counter.

“Oh, it’s lovely to finally meet you!” Nikki replied, reconising Sue's voice. She had spent some time organising the student’s appointments with Sue.

Aizah arrived first and was eager to sit her learner permit test. It was not long before she was eye-tested and settled in one of the testing booths, earphones on her head.

The rest of the students arrived and Sue processed each of them efficiently creating an easy flow into and out of the testing room. Sue's colleague Laura assisted with photos and answered questions.

“Congratulations you’ve passed!” became the buzz phrase, with one tiny hiccough.

Sorry I left my ID at home!

“I’m very sorry, I left my ID at home,” Ilhan reported, “my family was rushing in the morning and I had the documents I needed in my bag, I just left them at the house.”

Meri-bek case workers Steve and Simon had an anxious conference. They needed two staff with a working with children (WWC) check with the young people at all times.

“I have a WWC check,” Nikki reported. So, it was decided that Simon would drive to Ilhan’s house and pick up his ID documents then return to VicRoads so everyone would have the opportunity to sit their learner permit test that day.

Simon's mercy dash

After a nervous half hour, Simon returned with the documents in hand and Ilhan headed to the testing area. If was a good thing as he was truly ready and topped the class with a score of ninety-four percent!

Photos were taken and thanks given to Simon and Steve from Meri-bek and Sue and Laura from VicRoads for their part in a most successful day.

“Well, that’s the best Ramadan present ever!” Nikki commented to Ilhan who agreed that indeed it was.

From left to right: Meri-bek case workers Simon and Steve, learner driver Ilhan, and VicRoads Coolaroo staff members Sue and Laura.

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.

Click here to subscribe and find out about delivery of the Changing Gears program.

Call 1800 766 361 to find out more about Changing Gears.

Tags: #Meri-bek, #Meri-bek-Moreland Council, #Glenroy Community Hub, #community education program #safer roads #l plates, #learners permit, #road safety, #student driving program, #ChangingGears.

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