On the road to success

Once shy and reserved, Liam’s personal growth as a participant and mentor in the Cycle of Courage program and Sydney to Surfers event has brought him life skills and job opportunities. Now he wants to give back to Youth Off The Streets.
Liam had been struggling to stay engaged with mainstream education, so his mother encouraged him to try an alternative. 

“I found the pressures of high school really stressful,” says Liam. “I just wanted to stay at home.” 

His mother organised a visit to Youth Off The Streets’ EDEN College to try and persuade her son not to give up on his education. 

“My mum took me to the campus for a tour. I’m pretty sure she lied about where she was taking me, but I ended up enrolling, so I guess I was convinced enough,” Liam laughs. 

He went on to graduate from Year 10 at EDEN College, then transferred to the Step Up program to complete Years 11 and 12.  

“They offered cycling as an elective sport. I thought the Cycle of Courage program looked really cool. They teach you how to ride a road bike and you’d get to spend weekends away at cycling events.” 

“To be part of the program, I had to show up to school every day and do my best in class. They weren’t going to take kids who were slacking off or didn’t have a good attitude,” says Liam. 

Anita Heathcote, School Administration and Cycle of Courage Coordinator, is an avid cyclist and feels fortunate to be able to share her love of cycling with young people.  

“It’s impossible not to smile when you ride a bike,” she says. 

The Cycle of Courage program follows the Circle of Courage philosophy, which incorporates four ways to enhance resilience: belonging, mastery, independence and generosity.  

Students develop bike safety awareness and advance their technical skills in cycling. The program empowers young people with the knowledge and tools to achieve a healthy lifestyle and strengthens their sense of self and belief in their mental and physical abilities. 

Anita attributes the success of Cycle of Courage to the staff and mentors who volunteer their time and expertise to support students during training rides and events. 

The COVID-19 pandemic put Cycle of Courage on hold for two years. Liam’s return as a mentor coincided with the challenge to rebuild student involvement in the program as most of the group had graduated by the time restrictions were lifted.  

“Helping the young people is what I like best about mentoring,” says Liam. “It’s great to see them step out of their comfort zone and try something new and challenging.” 

Anita has watched Liam’s progress since he joined the program as a student and took part in Sydney to Surfers – a seven-day ride up the east coast of Australia.   

“It’s been wonderful to see Liam build his confidence over the years and embrace all the mentoring he’s received by members of the cycling community. They were so impressed with how he conducted himself during the 2018 Sydney to Surfers event that they gifted him his very own road bike.” 

“Pretty much after I finished school, I got a job straightaway” 

One of the most significant outcomes for young people participating in the cycling program are the employment and networking opportunities they encounter. Liam was fortunate to find not one but three job opportunities through the Sydney to Surfers ride. 

“Australia Post and Star Track had riders in the event and they ended up joining our team. When we got back from Surfers Paradise, they offered job opportunities to the students who had participated,” Liam explains. 

Liam started at Australia Post’s dispatching warehouse before moving to Star Track. He now works for Amazon – a job he secured through a contact he had made at Australia Post who moved across to Amazon.  

Liam’s two siblings, who also attended Youth Off The Streets high schools, were also offered jobs through their participation in the Cycle of Courage program. 

Sydney to Surfers charity ride for Youth Off The Streets 

After months of training and preparation, the 22nd Sydney to Surfers Robbo’s Ride charity event is set to depart from Sydney in the early hours of Saturday 29 April.  

Since the event began, over $3.5 million has been raised for Youth Off The Streets’ services for young people experiencing homelessness and disadvantage. 

It will be Liam’s fourth time participating in the event – his journey coming full circle from student to mentor and now, community fundraiser for Youth Off The Streets.  

“From basically being a non-attender in mainstream school to graduating from Year 12, stepping up to give it his all and taking every opportunity presented to him – it’s a huge achievement for Liam and we are all so proud of him,” says Anita.  

When asked to describe his favourite Sydney to Surfers memory, Liam talks about the feeling of leading over 100 registered riders for the last few kilometres along Sea World Drive to the finish line, flanked by an honorary police escort. The cheering and applause from the crowds pushes them to the end. Exhausted yet triumphant after cycling over 900kms, the team hug and high-five. It has been a gruelling effort, but the elation is infectious.  

“Youth Off The Streets was instrumental in supporting my family through difficult times. It’s a great organisation to fundraise for,” says Liam. 

You can support Liam’s ride and raise funds for young people in need at his Givar fundraising page. 

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