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Teens in the frame to learn.

TEENAGERS in Middlesbrough are getting on their bikes to gain skills and get a qualification.

They have taken up the challenge to "Pimp Their Bikes" in a project at the Newport Settlement.

Old bikes are being transformed into customised machines by the young people.

The project arose after Middlesbrough Council youth workers met a group of hard to reach young people on streets in the Gresham area.

The young people were not accessing youth provision. The youth workers built up trust over time with the young people and eventually a project was identified where they could work together around repairing and customising old mountain bikes.

Cleveland Police donated 15 bikes and the group successfully applied for pounds 1,500 of cash through the Youth Opportunity Fund for refurbishing the bikes.

Instructors from Middlesbrough Environment City provided the expertise needed to strip, refurbish and customise the bikes. At the end of the project the young people will gain a OCN Level 1 qualification in Bicycle Maintenance.

They are also getting involved in a range of workshops aimed at addressing risky behaviour and helping them to get involved in positive activities.

Michelle Crinnion, a youth outreach worker, who also works as a Police Community Support Officer, has been working on the project.

She said: "It's going really well. The young people have learned how to get the bike stripped down and sanded to bare metal so they can customise it themselves by painting and spraying."

Michelle said the project had thrown up many issues for the group to discuss including graffiti, knife crime, drug misuse and even religion and faith.

Agencies involved in delivering sessions include Middlesbrough Council Neighbourhood Officers, Platform (Young Persons' Drug and Alcohol Service), Safe in Tees Valley Intensive Intervention Project Workers and Middlesbrough Youth Service Outreach Team.

The young people have been in discussions with youth workers about future plans for having football and boxing included in the project.

CAPTION(S):

CUSTOMISED: Nathan Wilson, 15, Mohammed Hussein, 16, and Lewis Breckon, 15, with one of the bike frames, above, and Nathan sprays a frame, right Pictures by PETER BENN
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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Sep 26, 2009
Words:351
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