Youth Encounter Introduces World's First Dirt Bike Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
In a groundbreaking initiative, Youth Encounter is redefining youth counselling with its pioneering Dirt Bike Therapy program, combining the thrill of motocross with cognitive behavioral therapy and clinical counseling. This innovative approach is the first of its kind globally, designed to engage, empower, and heal young minds.
Youth Encounter's Dirt Bike Therapy program employs Te Whare Tapa Wha, a holistic model of well-being encompassing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects. This comprehensive approach aligns with the program's mission to address the diverse needs of young individuals.
A world record holder and the first female freestyle motocross rider with the renowned Crusty Demons of Dirt, 'Scary' Mary Perkins (now Wanhill), is the visionary behind Youth Encounter's Dirt Bike Therapy. After extensive studies in counseling and psychology, Mary channeled her passion into creating a program that empowers young people to transcend their circumstances.
Youth Encounter's Dirt Bike Therapy encourages young participants to harness their inherent risk-taking behaviors for personal growth. The program teaches resilience and enables participants to enjoy life while avoiding the pitfalls associated with risky behaviors. Delivered in both group and individual sessions over 8 weeks, the program unleashes the God-given potential in young people. By fusing clinical counseling with the exhilaration of dirt biking, Youth Encounter aims to inspire participants to "Live Life Wide Open."
In New Zealand, the demand for interventions like Youth Encounter's Dirt Bike Therapy is driven by a complex interplay of factors. With youth mental health concerns on the rise, the program responds to the need for innovative approaches that resonate with New Zealand's cultural context. The Te Whare Tapa Wha holistic model addresses the interconnected nature of well-being, aligning with the cultural values of the community.
Additionally, the program serves as a constructive outlet for risk-taking behaviors common among New Zealand's youth, redirecting these tendencies toward positive personal development. In a landscape where traditional therapeutic options may be limited in accessibility, Dirt Bike Therapy emerges as an engaging and accessible alternative, aiming to empower and build resilience among young individuals facing various challenges, including the impact of trauma on mental health.
Zane is a 14-year-old rangatahi who was struggling with his sense of identity and confidence in himself. His thoughts and outlook on life were predominantly negative with no future focus. The traumatic experiences and negative influences Zane had in his life are his biggest barriers to living life wide open. Zane has successfully engaged in Group Therapy and 1-1 Clinical Counselling programmes through Youth Encounter. Zane was one of the only rangatahi from the Group Therapy that attended all the sessions and was fully engaged throughout the whole process. His commitment to this program meant that he had a greater opportunity to get support and be encouraged to grow his confidence, be pushed outside his comfort zone, and unleash his potential.
After engaging in our programmes, Zane is now so much more confident and has belief in himself and his incredible God-given potential. He now has more of a future focus and positive outlook on life. He said, “My potential is unleashed when I change my mindset.” In recognition of Zane's achievements in Group Therapy, his parents were invited to visit Youth Encounter and join us in celebration. They raved about the difference they had seen in Zane and were very appreciative of our engagement with him. They gifted Youth Encounter a Māori Heru (moko Pounamu - bone caved comb) to show their appreciation. Zane said, “I never imagined I would be able to do jumps on a dirt bike. This was my first-time riding on track. I feel like my potential has been unleashed. I am more confident to try new things.”
Zane's story perfectly captures the impact of an identity shift that Youth Encounter strives for. Youth Encounter recognizes how prevalent low self-worth is among the young people in the community and so the programmes are designed to shift that perspective to have a more secure identity. Like Zane, there are many other participants whose self-worth has been influenced through Youth Encounter's programmes as a result of targeted and specific, impact driven kaupapa.