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Thursday, Sep 18, 2014

Motivating youth with Minibikes

This summer, nearly 80 teens from six different youth programs in the Northeast came together at Berkshire’s Residential Treatment Center campus in Canaan, New York for the 38th East NYPUM Rodeo, three days of healthy competition. imageThe Rodeo is part of the National Youth Project Using Minibikes (NYPUM) and this was the fifth consecutive year it has been held on Berkshire’s 2,000 acres of fields, trails, and woods.

From a young teenager’s point of view, the rodeo was three days of fun and excitement. From the perspective of staff from several youth organizations in the Northeast, it was a great example of how well the program promotes positive youth development.

imageNYPUM is a national recreational program founded in 1969 by American Honda Motor Company using minibiikes as a motivational tool, building personal development for at-risk youth. Berkshire began its participation in 2009 and hosted its first rodeo in 2010.

“Youths participate in challenging and fun activities with peers and positive adult role models,” said Gerry Hinman, Therapeutic Activities Coordinator at Berkshire. He explained that students must follow NYPUM rules for safe riding and maintenance of the minibike in order to participate and earn the privilege of riding one. They also must develop and achieve certain goals they set for themselves. Berkshire’s adult staff members discuss appropriate behavior and create a dynamic contract focused on positive goals for each participant.

image“We have found that, although the initial incentive for young people to participate in NYPUM is the minibike, membership in the group and developing a positive relationship with caring adults soon become most important to the youth,” said Ken Hutchinson, NYPUM Director of Operations.

This year, the rodeo had an added element of fun when Berkshire’s Culinary Program catered the event with crowd-pleasing food. Berkshire’s Chef and Food Service Coordinator, Jon Newcomer, and his students ensured that the riders had plenty to eat. NYPUM youth and staff gave rave reviews to their meals.

“Catering an outdoor event with so many excited youth and adults can be challenging, but the kids were all so polite and helpful . . . I was delighted and am looking forward to next year’s rodeo,” said Newcomer.

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