Drone Racing is currently one of the most expensive hobbies out there. This is common knowledge for just about everyone who has even glanced in the sports direction. So why does Alex Vargas, a therapeutic mentor at Child & Family, use it to connect with at-risk and gang-affiliated youth in New Bedford, Massachusetts?
His job and his hobby are obviously not a natural fit. As someone with tech of my own, I’m not sure I would trust some of my family with it, let alone potentially troubled youths. However, Vargas uses drones and racing to bring teaching opportunities that most other sports don’t. The equipment helps younger men and women understand responsibility, both with money and with ownership, a skill that is transferable to so many other aspects of their lives. Actually controlling the drones helps teach fine motor skills, and more importantly some basic engineering. A crash doesn’t have to be simply a crash, it’s an opportunity to show everyone how the hardware works.
Inverse, an American online magazine launched by Dave Nemetz, met up with Vargas on August 6 at the Drone Nationals on Governors Island in New York City. Although he, unfortunately, was unable to race with the top pilots, they were still able to ask him some rather interesting questions.
Drone racing isn’t the easiest sport to jump into. What is the first thing you teach the kids you work with?
No, it’s definitely not. Some kids, they’re very impatient. But it starts with responsibility. These things are dangerous if you make them that way. You’ve got to know where and when to fly, because if it malfunctions somebody could get hit.
So first I teach them to be responsible and make sure there’s nobody in the area, stuff like that.
Head over to the original article to catch the rest of their Q+A session.