What do you get when you get a bunch of young people that want to make a difference in their community, and the local Mayor throws down a gauntlet to those young people? A beautifully upgraded playground for young people, children and families to enjoy!
Earlier this year, a number of local young people from Cranebrook High School’s SRC participated in a Youth Leadership Forum as part of National Youth Week. The forum was organised through the Youth Worker at Cranebrook High School whose role falls under the National Schools Chaplaincy and Student Welfare Program, in partnership with the Cranebrook Youth Services Network and Penrith City Council Neighbourhood Renewal Program. It provided the students with the opportunity to share what they enjoyed about living in their community and make suggestions as to how their community could be improved. The Mayor, Councillor Ross Fowler participated in the forum as part of a local community leadership panel. Moved by their personal stories, aspirations and ideas to improve their community, Councillor Ross Fowler challenged them to put together a submission for one of their ideas to be presented to council. The students did just that and were given the opportunity to personally present their submission to the local council meeting. Impressed by their professionalism, the work that they had put in and their sense of ownership to make a contribution to their community, their submission was funded!
The end result is a fabulous newly updated Callisto Drive playground in Cranebrook which was opened last weekend, 8 November. Mayor, Councillor Ross Fowler was there to officially open the park with the students from Cranebrook High School. He said that the difference with this park and what made it so significant compared to the other new and updated playgrounds across Penrith was the involvement and ownership of the local young people. Two of the students involved and Aldo Trapanese, a youth worker from NCNS that worked with the young people, also gave speeches.
A code of conduct board was created, with local young people, other community members and Mayor, Councillor Ross Fowler all having their say on the type of behaviour they want to see in their park. Add a sausage sizzle, a face painter, a giant slide and ice cream, the opening was a huge success.
This project was a partnership between NCNS, Cranebrook Youth Services Network, Penrith City Council Neighbourhood Renewal and Cranebrook High School. Without our Youth Workers, Nerida, Leizsha and Aldo, it would not have been possible – and this is a good example of why it is so important to have professional Youth Workers in schools – they have the relationships, knowledge, experience and the connections to ensure great outcomes for young people and their communities.
Already, the park is getting great use, with new exercise equipment, a new climbing structure, wheelchair access and shade. It is going to be a fun place for young people and others to meet up, as well as giving youth workers the opportunity to engage with the local young people to build relationships and address some of the big issues, such as respect, inclusiveness and bullying.