Everyday Hero: Man uses dirt bikes to teach communication skills

By Bill Murphy, Everyday Hero Host
Last Updated: Sunday, February 21, 2016

A dirt biker’s dream awaits at Filter Youth Development in Inverness.

“We have 20 Honda dirt bikes and we teach kids ho2 to ride and every week they earn ‘ride time’ with good behavior, good grades,” founder and president George Schmalstig said.

He calls it ‘dirt therapy.’

A full safety check is performed on all the bikes before the engines are started.  The bikes, by the way, are donated by Honda.

There are also weekly class room sessions focusing on social skills and problem solving.

Geared to kids from 10 to 15 years old the non-profit program offers intense mentoring and support of kids and their parents to ensure better communication skills as the young people go through these critical years.

Schmalstig has many years of experience with the juvenile justice system and it’s something he wants kids to avoid at all costs.

“I started 18 years ago working in a juvenile prison and figured out really quickly that what we have to do is keep kids from ever getting into the system, because once they get into the system it can be pretty difficult to get them out,” Schmalstig said.

For the kids at Filter Youth Development, the bikes are a price worth working for.  And Filter Youth isn’t just for boys.  Schmalstig says girls make better dirt bikers than boys.

“You know our kids are not the most celebrated kids in the world, the ones that come to us here in the program.  So we want to celebrate them,” Schmalstig said.