Youth in Canberra have a new location to have fun and socialise as well as get support and advice with the official opening of YMCA Canberra Youth Space Civic.
Located next to the skate park on Cooyong Street, the space opened in late February, with its official opening on Wednesday 8 May. It is a partnership between YMCA Canberra and Anglicare NSW South, NSW West, ACT.
YMCA Canberra Youth Development Coordinator Zakia Patel said it is a safe place for any young person, aged 12-20.
“We’ve tried to create a space that caters to every young person and their likes and letting them shape what it looks like and what they want to do,” she said.
According to Ms Patel, the space has already had a warm response from young people with up to 29 people in attendance on one evening and they’ve already established “our regular young people coming in each week and spending time here”.
While the centre plans to run programs and structured activities, Ms Patel said what they offer will be informed by the young people. In the future, they will also look to run programs outside of drop-in sessions on employable skills.
According to YMCA Canberra CEO Torrien Lau, Youth Space addresses a need for the community and provides a space which allows for “young people to belong to something that’s theirs”.
“If we see a need, that’s where we go and that’s what we saw here,” he said. “When this place originally closed (it was previously a youth centre), the youth got together and formed a petition that they wanted it back.”
Youth Space Civic is currently funded by YMCA Canberra, however Mr Lau is keen to see investment from the government and community.
“We would love this to be a replicable model,” he said. “We are confident it is a great model and worthwhile” with the long-term goal being to develop additional Youth Space venues across Canberra.
Youth Space Civic is open on Thursdays and Fridays 2-3pm for case management (one-on-one support with a youth worker) and 3-7pm to drop-in and hang. Free to attend.
For more information, find @YouthSpaceCivic on Facebook.