Thursday, 7 April 2011

We Need a Youth Centre Now!

A Youth Centre benefits the whole community be providing a space for children and young adults to seek assistance from their community leaders: young people get a sense of being valued by the broader community, resulting in respect for themselves, their families, local  businesses, and adults in authority.  
Young people, like all people, feel valued by their community when they are socially included.
Being socially included means that people have the resources, opportunities and capabilities they need to:  
Learn: Participate in education and training.  
Work:  Participate in paid employment. 
Engage: Connect with people, use local services and participate in local, cultural, civic and recreational activities.  
Have a voice: Influence decisions that affect them. 
So who's job is it to provide these things:
We know that State and Federal Governments, through funding, provide: Schools, health centres, sporting venues, PCYC Centres and Programs for youth in crisis. 
If our community is to be inclusive we need to provide our young people with the resources, opportunity and capacity to engage with each other and the wider community in a space that is reflective of the activities they enjoy. 
The role of council, is to enhance communication and awareness of community needs across all levels, for better planning of services, facilities and infrastructure.  
In our Region we have 40% of our population under 24, local Government needs to provide a space for them to Engage, the same way they have provided two local Government venues for our 15% of Seniors to engage. Therefore I believe it is the role of our council to plan and facilitate a youth centre, that is representative of the needs of youth in the region.
By not providing this space the message we send to our young people is "we do not value you, enough to provide you with what you need. 
This can not be just any place, if we don't have the right people, with the right attitude, delivering the right model of youth centre, we might as well get used to young people using inappropriate spaces for their games, and  a growing disrespect for businesses and authority.
Look, I was born in 1962 and I loved my childhood, but we can not just romanticize the past and say our children need to do what we didi and like what we liked. It is a new generation and if we are to show them that we value them we need to ask them what they would like  to see in a youth centre. Also in our Region we have a large Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community more than double the national average, so we need to ask Murri kids and young adults, what they need in a space.
Following is how I see a Youth Centre, if you are under 25 please add your comments and lets start creating "Your Space".  
A Youth Centre needs to be a welcoming place where young people (0 -25) can go to:
1. Get information and advice
2. Connect with positive peer influences
3. Find adults who are understanding and kind in nature
4. Find Cultural safety i.e. A feeling of being able to express your own cultural beliefs without complaint or judgement. 
5. Find recreational activities ( Music, dance, games, sport)
6. A Community Bus service to and from the venue after dark.
7. Cafe' hot & cold beverages, food. (Affordable)
8. A comfortable environment where they feel safe to just chill out
9.  Have access to and instruction in; computers: internet, facebook, blogging, tweeting, Desk top publishing, assignment and homework tutoring. 
10.  Organize and conduct their own Social events
11. Access to a Professional Psychologist and links to other services they may need.
My Vision, is it yours???
I see the venue as a big warehouse style building, with a stage and music equipment and a large lounge area and internet cafe' as the focal points.
The venue needs to be open: from 5pm to midnight each evening and 11am to midnight Sat and Sundays: (Youth 13 and under must leave the centre by 9pm each evening:  Day time hours Monday to Friday young people should be working or studying, just as all members of the community are in these hours, those who are not, need to be in State and Federal Government funded programs)
A site manager/volunteer co-ordinator and two youth mentors would be paid work and all other positions would be training and volunteer positions. 
Because of our geographical situation in the Rockhampton Region two sub youth centres would also operate out of Mt Morgan and Yeppoon, using the same model.


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