By Jeff Sanford
Vancouver, British Columbia -- October 27, 2016 -- The Customs for Urban Teens (CUT) Program does great work in introducing at-risk, urban youth to the wonders of the custom world. At the same time, the kids get hands-on experience with auto restoration and customization. There's no doubt the program helps kids and the community, but now it could use some help from you.
The program is run by Mark McKim. Participants meet Monday and Friday from 3 to 8 p.m. and help to rebuild a car from scratch.
“We're word-of-mouth. We take high risk kids and teach them some skills,” says McKim.“We get kids from all walks and all socio-economic levels. Anyone who wants to come in our shop and learn can do that.”
A recent build involved a 1930 Model A Coupe. One of the program's participants purchased it when he was 15, but McKim notes that it simply wasn't safe. The program cut it up and rebuilt it for him while McKim was looking for a new project.
“We pulled the body and redid the frame,” says McKim. “I never set a time limit on them. The last one took 18 months."
Students from the program have gone on to attend British Columbia Institute of Technology on a welding ticket. Others have found jobs as autobody techs in regional shops. McKim also has a connection to legendary car builder and customizer Gene Winfield who has come up from California in the past to paint CUT program cars.
“We are currently finishing off a full custom '47 Chev pickup that was chopped with help from Gene,” says McKim.
He goes on to note that after age 18, there’s a “real drop-off in youth programming. A program like this can keep kids out of trouble." Getting to work with world-class talent like Winfield is another bonus. A round of funding from the Vancouver Foundation’s Youth Philanthropy Council was enough to get the program out of the garage and up and running, but it's taken donations from local business like KMS Tools and Equipment and Richmond Auto Body to keep it going.
KMS Tools and Equipment has let the program use a space for free for the last six years. Unfortunately, the company needs the space for an expansion. The CUT Program needs a space to keep helping these kids. If you've got space, time or materials and equipment to donate, Mark McKim wants to hear from you. You can get in touch with him at 604-617-9739 or via email to email@example.com.
For more information on the CUT Program, please visit cutprogram.org.