When a child comes from a broken family, the experiences their better-off classmates have are mere fleeting dreams for them.

Maybe their home life includes a single parent working a minimum wage job, barely able to provide the basics, or maybe one of their parents is incarcerated. And if so, they’re probably not attending high-cost extracurricular activities after school.

As the old saying goes, “idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” When home life is hard for a child, it’s easy to fall off the tracks.

So before at-risk kids get into trouble with the law, Filter Youth Development steps in to provide disadvantaged kids age 10 to 14 with a unique opportunity — dirt bike riding — as a reward for personal improvement (Tuesday, June 4, page A1).

The local nonprofit, founded by George Schmalstig and Chris Caravetto, aims to change lives of children and families right here in our community, and to some kids, it’s making all the difference in the world. We’re lucky to have it in Citrus.

In the program, kids work with mentors 18 weeks at a time learning the invaluable lessons of discipline, determination, communication, cooperation, listening and problem solving. They set weekly goals (like keeping their room clean or staying calm in the classroom) and if they meet them, they earn dirt bike riding time on Saturdays.

The mini-bikes are provided by the philanthropic efforts of Honda, the National Youth Project Using Minibikes (NYPUM).

Dirt therapy is helping kids connect and find passion.

Sometimes, what holds a child back from greatness are the circumstances they were born into. Without access to a piano, would we know the works of Beethoven?

Filter Youth Development provides a unique experience for kids who otherwise may not get the opportunity to try motocross.

It equips vulnerable adolescents with friends to confide in and directs remediation by implementing structure.

The program is keeping kids out of jail and it’s motivating them to turn their life around in a positive manner.

If you are a local business owner, we challenge you to reach out and provide a special opportunity to a local disadvantaged child. It could just fire up the passion that lights the way to success and happiness in their future.

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(1) comment


I'm not a business owner, but as a Job Creator I'm willing to write a check. Kids need mentors, I'm glad I was fortunate enough to have a couple of great mentors.

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