Stage 1: Programs Funded In The DGR Social Connections Challenge

Posted 3 years ago

In June 2020, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride Social Connections Challenge was announced where $1.15M of funding is being put to use toward programs that encourage positive social connections within the motorcycling community. The new initiative has leverage funds raised by The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride community to create a funding pool of AUD $1.15 million designed at finding ideas that can improve the social connectedness, life satisfaction and mental wellbeing of motorcycle riders.

From that, we had 18 programs successfully reach the first stage of funding from across Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the USA, and the UK to allow the program leads to develop and test their ideas. These, are those ideas:

Six ideas from Australia have been selected for further development:

  • Mind Moto – Putting the Cog in Cognition. Aimed at male motorcyclists of all ages, this initiative aims to build participants’ skills and understanding of good motorcycling practices as well as give them new tools for their mental health toolbox and provide them with the confidence needed to deal with life’s challenges.
  • The Workshop Project targets men between 25-50 in urban areas. The project team is proposing to use an app to bring together motorcyclists in a safe and sustainable way to enable them to build friendships and local support around their shared passion for motorcycles.
  • Konnections, based at Melbourne’s Kustom Kommune DIY Motorcycle workshop, expands on the existing “We Kare” support program that targets middle-aged male motorcyclists. Konnections has proposed to bring in a dedicated team of health care professionals, mentors and volunteers for men in need of extra support.
  • Lost Motos aims to change the conversations that take place around motorcycles to empower men to develop meaningful and emotionally engaged relationships with others. The project will engage mental health professionals to upskill project leaders, provide Mental Health First Aid courses and hold SpeakEasy nights.
  • Solace Garage is a mentor & support program that brings a wide variety of at-risk males of all ages together in a supportive community that shares a common interest in motorcycles. The project team aims to broaden the scope to include rider training, safe maintenance and modifications, and the potential to work with motorcycles as a job.
  • The Riders Project is an online video series, produced in partnership with the motorcycle community worldwide, which combines photography, audio interviews and music to create an authentic and compelling mental health story.

Three ideas from Canada have been selected for further development:

  • Project ‘Team Building’ is aimed at building a community around newer riders who are passionate about motorcycles and have an interest in learning more about mechanics and customization. The project aims to explore how to bring people together to participate in virtual bike builds) who would not have otherwise had an opportunity to make connections.
  • Men Riding for Sustainability and Wellness is an Alberta-based project that proposes to build an initiative that engages and encourages young male motorcycle riders to explore the environment, connect with each other, improve their mental well-being and increase their mental health literacy.
  • Riding to Recovery is a peer-support program for riders with mental health concerns. Through virtual courses such as “Motorcycle Maintenance 101,” or “Motorcycle Photography,” participants learn the principles of recovery – connectedness, hope, autonomy, peer education and empowerment.

Four ideas from the US have been selected for further development:

  • Motorcycle Therapy targets middle-aged motorcycle riders from any branch of the armed services who are in active duty, retired or veterans. The program aims to open up opportunities to experience different types of motorbiking without the risk of financial commitment. Small build groups encourage natural friendships to form along with riding activities to encourage and promote participants’ ability to tackle their personal problems.
  • aims to create a motorcycle map to connect riders, between the ages of 25-35, with local events, destinations and riding buddies. Many riders leave and come back to the hobby, move to a new city, or simply struggle with the social anxieties to connect with other local enthusiasts. The goal is to break down those barriers to entry and help riders plug into the thriving moto communities in their own backyards.
  • The Turn is aimed at male riders of all ages and will engage with the NYC motorcycle community to provide a year-round program that focuses on fostering community and tackling mental health issues.
  • The Ride 2 Wise series of short films aims to address the ways in which men communicate and share personal stories, allowing them to be vulnerable in a setting that is familiar to them. Older bikers have much life experience to share with younger riders and it is hoped that the films will lead to transformational conversations, build relationships and strengthen social connections.

Three ideas from the UK have been selected for further development:

  • Quay Rider, is a mentorship initiative based at the motorcycle workshop in Poole, Dorset. The project aims to connect older men with younger men who are living in care. Participants will learn how to build and modify a motorcycle, on which the younger riders will undertake a series of off-road challenges under the guidance of their mentors.
  • Bike Directory is an online platform for riders in their middle years, looking for places to socially interact with others. The team will use social media to inform the community, many of whom are men who are hard to reach, about upcoming events and report past events.
  • Project Pit Stop encourages motorcyclists to socialise with each other, strengthening existing relationships or developing new ones. It also uses a ‘health by stealth’ approach, providing mental health services and mental health literacy alongside practical bike maintenance tips.

Two ideas from New Zealand have been selected for further development:

  • The Motorcycle Collective is a social enterprise that aims to create a supportive community for motorcycle enthusiasts of all ages. The project aims to utilise their workshop to create a welcoming space for building connection amongst people from all walks of life. Through a shared passion for riding, participants will be provided with the skills and awareness needed for better mental health and wellbeing.
  • The Tinker, Talk & Tour project will take an existing concept and adapt it for a digital audience. Its aim is to de-stigmatise conversations about mental health using the language and cultural references of the motorcycling community.

Movember’s Global Director of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Brendan Maher, said:

“We have been extremely impressed with the ingenuity and ambition of the ideas we have received for the DGR Social Connections Challenge.

“We know that people who are satisfied with their relationships and social connections are more likely to enjoy good mental health and wellbeing. However, riding can be inherently isolating, which is why we’re looking to find new ways to help motorcyclists create stronger connections with each other.

“We’re excited about working with these partners to bring their ideas to life and create programs that will make a real difference to the mental health and wellbeing of the men in these communities.”

Founder of The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, Mark Hawwa, said:

“When we launched the DGR Social Connections Challenge, we called out to our community to encourage their ideas to produce innovative and inspiring programs that will help men in motorcycling build positive social connections.

“We have been humbled by the incredible applications that we received, and are proud to be able to guide these concepts and help them grow into real-life programs that will benefit the mental health of men within the motorcycling community.”

The next phase will see grants of up to AUD $75,000, allocated to a maximum of 10 of the most promising projects, enabling them to be delivered in pilot format. In the meantime, we look forward to sharing more on the successful programs that we are funding, including the Veterans and First Responders program.