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Donated car helps young Canberrans ‘drive for life’

Graham Gulson (left) presents the keys to the new car to Andrew Rich, manager of The Salvation Army Oasis Youth Services. Captain Tara McGuigan (right) facilitated the process.

Vulnerable young Canberrans who have faced serious challenges in life and need a helping hand will be given the opportunity to learn to drive – thanks to the donation of a car to The Salvation Army’s Drive for Life program.

Drive for Life helps Canberrans aged 17 to 25, who may otherwise not have access to driving lessons or a car to learn to drive. Priority is given to concession card holders and those who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

The program also delivers educational courses that count towards driving hours, such as the Safer Drivers course (20 hours) and the Vulnerable Road Users course (10 hours).

The new car helps make possible a fresh start for struggling youth.

“The donation of this car will enable young people to have a safe, maintained and insured vehicle in which to practise their driving skills after obtaining 10 initial professional driving lessons through our partners at Pinnacle Driving School,” explained Andrew Rich, manager of The Salvation Army’s Oasis Youth Services.

“In addition, participants in the program will be matched with Salvation Army volunteer driving mentors and use this donated vehicle to practice and enhance their safe-driving skills, working towards the 100 hours of supervised driving experience required to obtain their Provisional Driver’s Licence in the ACT.

“Being able to drive gives young people the choice and control necessary to realise their education, employment and housing goals. It’s a key milestone in a young person’s life and helps them move towards independence.”

Len Goodwin, a Canberra local and long-term supporter of The Salvation Army, and Graham Gulson from Gulson’s Classic Cars donated the Drive for Life vehicle.

When Len heard Andrew talk about the program and its impact on youth – not just helping with driving skills but mentoring as well – he knew he wanted to be a part of it.

“I felt I wanted to help with the vehicle and contacted Gulson’s as I trust in the business and Graham, having dealt with Gulson’s for so many years,” he said. “Graham said yes with no hesitation when I put the request to him.”

“It has been a wonderful opportunity for us to get involved in supporting such a valuable program,” said Graham. “Drive for Life is just the kind of thing we would like to be able to support.”

Captain Tara McGuigan, Salvation Army Public Relations Manager in the ACT, said the program gave young people a completely new chance in life. “The people accessing the Drive for Life program will receive mentoring, care, and emotional support as much as driving skills,” she said. “A program like this helps vulnerable youth build their self-confidence, self-worth, and so much more.”

Andrew anticipates 30-40 young people will engage with the program over the next 12 months.

The ACT Government - Transport and City Services fund the program.

For more information – as a participant or mentor, click here.


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