A CHANCE to help young people learn basic driving skills attracted volunteer mentor driver Wayne Lentsment initially, but, 6 years on, he has gained so much more.
Spotting an ad calling for drivers in a local newspaper, Wayne, who was already busy with commitments as a Marriage Celebrant, bus driver and arthritis group volunteer, was quick to put his hand up.
Completing a 2 day training course through VicRoads, Wayne has been with the Licencing the Wimmera program since its inception, and says he gets a lot out of the sessions.
“Experience is wisdom. I really enjoy sharing my life experience and skills with the young person, as well as hearing their stories and sharing their lives,” he said.
“Seeing their confidence grow and building a rapport and friendship is wonderful, as is working around different learning styles. It’s definitely a two way thing.”
From hill driving, using the Wawunna Road overpass, to driving on different road surfaces, long distance driving and parallel parking, Wayne, like the other mentors, tries his best to present learners with an overall driving skills package.
“But, while a lot of my mentees are receptive to these interactions and aren’t afraid to ask if they can try something else, I insist they learn to use and trust the vehicle and their own abilities above all else,” Wayne said.
“Licencing the Wimmera benefits the community by getting young people into the driver’s seat not only earlier, but with the correct skills, confidence and a sense of responsibility.”
Volunteering weekly, Wayne said the shortest period he trained a learner was just 2 days while the longest, to date, has been 14 months.
“I get a lot out of these interactions and enjoy seeing the young person learn how to live as a civic person and develop their driving skills. I also appreciate how flexible the program is, I can fit it around my other commitments and the flexibility to change days is there, if needed,” he said.
Telling others about his experiences as a volunteer driving mentor, Wayne said in the past he would leave it up to the individual to sign up as a volunteer if they chose to do so.
“However, after personally experiencing the positive impact the program has on both the young person and the mentor, I would definitely encourage more people to put their hand up,” Wayne said.
To register your interest in volunteering as a mentor driver, or to find out more about the program phone Licencing the Wimmera Coordinator Marieke Dam on 03 5382 5607.