You may have heard that young people are losing interest in cars and driving. Whilst it is true that lack of time and money prevents many teens from making their driving dreams a reality, the interest is definitely still there. A survey from Autotrader questioned 3,000 American members of Generation Z (born after 1995). 92% want to own a car and 72% would even give up their beloved social media for a year for a chance of car ownership!
It is clear that cars and driving are still relevant to today’s kids and a spotlight on a fantastic new program is showing how classic cars can benefit America’s most vulnerable young people. CNN recently interviewed Aaron Valencia, an ex juvenile delinquent who kicked his teenage drug habit and turned his life in a positive direction thanks to his passion for classic cars. After opening a small shop, Aaron decided to expand into an after school program for at risk youth with a focus on classic car restoration. The program, Lost Angels Children’s Project, aims to offer children a positive and safe space to learn something different, whilst providing them with something Aaron never had as a child – stability. Here is why working with classic cars is helpful for at risk kids.
Learn useful skills
The benefits of learning mechanical skills are huge. Children who have been let down by traditional academia can gain confidence and hope knowing that career opportunities are available in more vocational pursuits. Aside from careers, an understanding of how cars work will help keep kids safe when they become drivers themselves.
Positive male role models
In many American households the father is absent or distant and society worries about the effect of a lack of a male role model in children’s lives. Whilst there are many wonderful women working in the car industry, it remains predominantly male and so these programmes provide role models of positive masculinity. The initial interest in classic cars can lead to literacy practicing reading quality car related media, an incentive to learn about science and positive socialization in the car community. Allowing boys and girls to express masculine sides of their personality without being aggressive or delinquent is a wonderful outlet.
Reconnect with history
Whilst helping out in any mechanic shop would garner many benefits, the classic car focus of this programme is especially beneficial because it connects the kids with history. The benefits of studying history include providing identity and valuable lessons about why the present is the way it is. Working with classic cars provides children with a living’ history and could spark an interest in the time period of the car or the history of mechanics.
With all the benefits the classic car industry offers vulnerable young people, it would be wonderful to see more programmes like Lost Angels Children’s Project in the future!