A small crowd of local kids and teenagers cheered happily as they welcomed the relocation of the Clarence Valley’s Out of the Box youth hubs from Market Square to Fisher Park on January 27.
Describing the new location as “traditionally a kids area”, Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis said the relocation was made possible by an $80,000 grant under the NSW Government’s Stronger Country Communities Fund.
After a traditional welcome to country by Bundjalung children Lennox and Maisie Monaghan, the youths in attendance joined Mr Gulaptis and representatives from Clarence Valley Council and the New School of Arts Neighbourhood Centre, to cut the ribbon and officially open the relocated youth hubs.
“It was terrific to relocate the Out of the Box facility from Market Square to where the kids traditionally play at Fisher Park,” Mr Gulaptis said.
“It is traditionally a kids area rather than Market Square which is a multi-use area.
“Out of the Box is a terrific facility and I’m really glad that the NSW Government has partnered with Clarence Valley Council to deliver something like this to our young people.
“We simply provide the funding, and we listen to our community so we can provide the sort of facilities that you really need to have a complete, integrated community because our kids are an integral part of the community, and if we want to see them grow up to be contributors and to become elders, we need to provide a foundation for them and Out of the Box provides that foundation.”
CVC General Manager Ashley Lindsay said council works hard to look after local youths and the hubs offer a vital connection for youth services and activities by creating a dedicated space for young people.
“We want young people to live in a community where they feel safe, included and supported,” he said.
“The project aims to build strong community partnerships, facilitate inclusiveness for young people in the community and set up soft entry points to access services.”
While addressing the youths in the crowd at the official opening, Mr Lindsay said Out of the Box had been moved to “a much better location” for them and he trusts the facilities will be well looked after in their new settings.
“They’re your facilities and its important that you look after them,” he said.
“When we get the funding for these projects, which are important for our youth and create that connection to country as well, it is fantastic, so I just hope you enjoy the facilities.”
The New School of Arts Neighbourhood Centre currently run youth drop-ins from the hubs each Wednesday afternoon and programs also run at various times during the school holidays with a wide range of youth activities.
Jeremy Jablonski, who works extensively with Clarence Valley youths through the New School of Arts, said relocating Out of the Box was a great thing for the community and the move had been initiated following consultation with young people.
“One of the most important and crucial elements of this project is to involve young people,” he said.
Mr Jablonski was at the official opening at Fisher Park and said the local youths loved having the facilities at the new location.