Weekend Sun   

Giving learners the green light

Kurt Waugh, Blue Light CEO Rod Bell, Isaac Clare, Debbie Harema and Quentin Beetham with the new Suzuki Swift. Photo: John Borren.

More learner drivers in the Western Bay of Plenty will get a helping hand thanks to the donation of a new car to the Blue Light driver programme.

The car, a Suzuki Swift donated by the Rapid Relief Team, will enable Blue Light to offer 30 more lessons a week to young people who may not have the support to access a licence and lessons otherwise.

The Blue Light youth driver navigator programme has been running in the Western Bay of Plenty since 2017. More than 1700 students have enrolled in the programme and 1500 licence stages have been passed so far.      

The ability to gain a driver’s licence is one that many New Zealanders often take for granted, but for some the cost of fees and lessons, a registered and warranted vehicle to drive and distance from testing centres act as significant barriers, says Blue Light CEO Rod Bell.

“The more cars we have, the more students can be out there practicing their driving,” says Rod.

“Every new car increases our ability to provide safe, registered, warranted vehicles for kids to learn to drive in, which is fantastic.”

Nine Western Bay secondary schools are involved in the programme, and referrals for students come from either their school, police or other community organisations.

The programme is supported by volunteers who take young people for lessons, provide road code tuition and help with any aspect of getting a licence that is needed.

Rod says they are always on the lookout for more volunteers.

Having a licence also helps with young people’s employability, he says.

“While many jobs don’t involve driving, more than 70 per cent of positions advertised require a licence,” says Rod

Employers use a licence as a way of assessing an employee’s reliability to get to work as well as an indication of their capability and competency, he says.

“We are very grateful that the Rapid Relief Team shares our passion in supporting the ability of all young people in New Zealand to reach their full potential, to have the opportunity to gain their driver’s licence, and improve not only their outcomes, but the outcomes of their whānau and the communities they live in” adds Rod.

Blue Light is a not-for-profit organisation that works in partnership with the police to create positive connections between young people and the police.

For more information visit: www.bluelight.co.nz

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