CINCINNATI (WKRC) - They may not have had the easiest road in life, but a group of students is finding a way to ride through their struggles.
“Mini bikes” are helping at-risk teens. They're good at riding their mini bikes and it's a pastime the teens enjoy.
The group has a mentor, Mark Davies, who teaches them the rules and helps them master their skills.
“He taught me everything,” said Curtis Duncan, a student in the program. “Before this, I didn't know how to ride a dirt bike.”
Riding mini bikes is more than just a hobby for the students at St. Joseph orphanage.
It is part of a program called NYPUM or National Youth Project Using Minibikes.
“It's a behavioral tool to help kids get motivated within the classroom outside of the classroom to increase their self-esteem, sense of belonging,” said Davies.
Davies has been running the program at St. Joseph's Altercrest campus for 18 years.
In order to get this privilege, the students have individual contracts.
They to agree to behave well in school and participate in class.
“I enjoy riding so I try to keep my behaviors in check,” said Zachary Bingle, a student in the program. “I enjoy riding and I like to be a part of this program.”
“Before I even went to the program, I used to fight a lot and get angry more, but when I went into the program, I never fought. I never fight and I never get angry anymore,” said Duncan.
Davies says it builds a brotherhood “and pride in the bike itself, the equipment and be a part of something. So it gives them something to look forward to,” said Davies.
“I feel like I never had any brothers but I always do, like two of them, like them two and all of them, they're all like my brothers,” said Bingle.
St. Joseph orphanage has 170 children.
Many are considered "at-risk" youth and get help with counseling services in addition to their education.
The NYPUM program adds to that structure and is changing the students' lives for the better.
Honda supports the program by donating the trail bikes.