Article courtesy of ChristianWeek (www.christianweek.org)
Written by Jennifer Verch, ChristianWeek Correspondent
WINNIPEG, MB – For a group of inner-city boys, the excitement when the checkered flag drops at the speedway and the cars roar by must feel like a world away from their homes in Winnipeg’s North End.
Inner City Motorsport is a stock car club for youth ages 10 to 15 in the city’s core. The Inner City Youth Alive (ICYA) program gives youth hands-on experience working on cars in a healthy environment.
On Thursday nights during the summer the boys worked at the speedway as pit crew members, making tire changes, refuelling and cheering for the car they had poured so much work into.
Program director Dean Waldner says the racing club teaches youth auto skills and offers them a safe alternative to wandering the streets. But more than that it’s about building relationships.
“A majority of the boys who come are drawn to positive male role models who are strong and are not abusive to them,” says Waldner, one of the club’s three volunteer racecar drivers. “We try to tell them the model we follow is Christ, and that’s why we love them the way we do.”
Inner City Motorsport started last spring when Waldner and a friend combined their interests in racing with helping inner-city youth. Waldner donated his 1991 Volkswagen Fox to the program. While not exactly a speedy racecar, sponsor support and some major retrofitting by the kids, got the racecar ready to compete in the four-cylinder enduro class at Red River Co-op Speedway, south of Winnipeg.
Since then a previously-raced 1974 street stock Camaro and a Toyota Camry have been donated to the club.
The racing club is a great way to reach out to troubled youth in an exciting way, says Waldner. While the summer race season has ended – with some top five finishes – the group is gearing up for ice racing in January.
“The kids are feeling very proud of themselves because as a team, we’re learning to make our car perform better.”
Inner City Youth Alive is always looking for volunteers to assist with the program by serving as role models. For more information, click to contact ICYA.