13 October 2022

Teens chillin' in the library after dark as Bega youth projects come to fruition

| Katrina Condie
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Youth in library

Participants in the youth-led Late Night Libraries pilot held at Tura Marrang Library in September. Photo: Bega Valley Council.

Chilling out in the Tura Marrang Library is proving a fantastic way for young people to connect, while also making the most of community facilities once the sun goes down.

The Late Night Libraries project is one of four innovative concepts being developed as part of the Bega Valley Council’s Youth Speak Future Shaper program.

Council’s youth resilience officer Cal Champagne said, since the Bega Valley Youth Forum held in May, young people across the shire had been connecting and collaborating on the themes and ideas that surfaced at that event.

“Through pop-up sessions in libraries and the Future Shaper camp in July, four strong project concepts have emerged,” Cal said.

The Late Night Libraries project is off to a strong start following a pilot held at the Tura Marrang library on Friday 30 September. A second pilot at the same venue is scheduled for Friday 28 October.

“The Late Night Libraries project is about making the most of public spaces where young people can connect, create and have fun,” Cal said.

“We had 45 young people aged 12-24 attend the event. A free dinner was provided along with a music jam corner, art supplies, video games and a collaborative art piece. It was a chance to just hang, chill and eat.”

“The feedback has been really positive and the project team is taking on board suggestions to be considered for the second pilot.”

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As well as the Late Night Libraries initiative, council is exploring other projects including Youth Connect App, Sprout the Youth Garden and the StreetArt program.

“Each of these projects has been through a screening process to ensure they are things that young people in the shire want, are achievable and will be effective in meeting the needs of young people,” Cal said.

Each group is linked with an experienced community mentor who will work with young people to build on the initial project idea, moving through a solid plan to eventually launch and deliver the project.

“The role of the mentors is to help solve challenges and address roadblocks to success rather than lead,” Cal explained.

“Throughout the process our young project leads are exploring and learning the value of project management techniques and developing the skills required to work effectively within a team and in a community setting.”

The Youth Connect App project is focused on developing a digital platform designed to bring together event and support information for young people in one place.

The project team will be holding a series of free app development workshops in Bega and Eden in November and December.

“The team is keen for any 12 to 24-year-olds with an interest in coding and app development to come along and get involved,” Cal said.

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The Sprout the Youth Garden and StreetArt project teams are mapping out their project pathways and planning their first mini-projects.

There are also a number of projects still in the design phase, including disaster preparedness-focused projects being developed in partnership with Eden Marine High School and Eden Community Access Centre.

Council has also launched a TikTok channel for its Bega Valley Youth Speak project with the aim of making the most of the social media platform’s growing popularity among young people.

Anyone interested in the planning process or becoming a member of any of these projects can contact Cal at [email protected]

For more information about Youth Speak, the Future Shaper program and Future Shaper projects, visit council’s website.

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