The Youth Committee formed after Naomi Stevenson – Community Development worker and Artist, from Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services, saw a real need for positive and sustained engagement opportunities for children and young people in Kingswood Park. “Kids and young people in this area, don’t really have a say about what goes on & there is not much to do. This leads to a lot of issues with disengagement from school, anti-social behaviour in the neighbourhood and as they get older, some even end up on the justice system. The youth committee is a first step in the direction of re-engagement and positive change in the Kingswood Park neighbourhood. Not just for young people, but the Kingswood Park community as a whole.”
The Youth Committee – Community Garden & Mural project was funded by Penrith City Council through their Magnetic Places Community Cultural Grants Program which supports creative placemaking projects that bring artists and communities together in identified neighbourhoods of Penrith, including Kingswood Park.
Youth Committee members were chosen from a poster competition run at the local primary school, Kingswood Park Public School. The young people were asked to design a poster that celebrated the positive aspects of Kingswood Park and to give examples of why they would make a good committee member. Katrina Berwick, principal of the school, praised this project, ‘This opportunity has provided aspiring young leaders the opportunity to shine in our school and wider community. Their dedication and motivation to the project inspired their peers to become involved in this project and future projects. Working in partnership with NCNS has strengthened community involvement in our school and pride in our local area.’
Those that were successful, were then given the opportunity to attend a Leadership Training day, to develop their understanding and skills around being a strong leader in their community & how to manage the community project that was before them. Committee members diligently attended regular committee meetings, hosted community arts workshops & gardening days and the response and involvement by the community overall has been “overwhelming & humbling” says project artist and co-ordinator Naomi Stevenson.
On Saturday 27th June, committee members, their families and stakeholders, attended a Fun day to celebrate the success and hard work of their first project. Committee members were presented with their certificates and all were treated to a small film, edited by the talented Vanna Seang of Roar Footage, that highlighted the positive outcomes fro the youth committee overall.
When asked, where to now? Naomi Stevenson is excited and enthusiastic about where the Youth Committee is heading. “We are already recruiting new members to add to this amazing group. Whilst our new members are found, we are also seeking funding opportunities, to grow and develop the committee and better the community with creative and positive projects for all. The key to positive change in a community such as this, is for those that live in it, particularly young people, to feel they have a voice and can make a real difference in their neighbourhood.”
If you would like to assist with tax deductible donations or support this amazing project in some way. Please contact Naomi Stevenson on 0417 550 382 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.