I am a world traveller & a mom of two, (8 & 6). I love to meet people, and am fascinated that there are 7 billion stories out there to be explored. I think Melbourne is the most happening city to live in with all the fun activities around town.
Published May 17th 2013
Youth: An integral part of the community
As I was walking towards the Narre Warren Library one Friday afternoon, my eyes strayed over to the big flashy colourful bus that was parked right outside. I made a half-hearted effort to read the painted letters on the bus, but all I could decipher were some numbers and "YOUTH INFORMATION" on the painted side with a canopy. I thus decided to walk over and check it out myself. Two very friendly women greeted me and told me that Casey 360 is a mobile, state of the art "youth centre" and I was welcome to take a tour (although I am way beyond my youth years). Unfortunately, they were closing up for the evening and had thus put away some of the technical equipment that is usually on board, yet they allowed me to take a tour and were more than happy to tell me about the services they provide.
Casey 360 - A Mobile Youth Center
Before I tell you about what I found out on the tour of the bus, let me tell how overawed I was by what my eyes were seeing. In my days of youth, I can hardly remember any youth services outside of the school extra-curricular activities. I also remember that we had an audio visual section and a sound proof auditorium built at our council library where youth oriented concerts and lectures would be held along with movie viewings once in a while. That was the extent of the 'youth services' I remember during my high school years (early 90s).
As I googled the history of youth centres to write this article, I found out that most of the youth centres were established in the mid-90s, however some are much older. A "Youth centre" is a place that provides an opportunity for youth to have social and recreational interactions with peers. One of the major benefits of such centres is to keep youth occupied with meaningful and skill-building activities so that they remain off the streets and out of trouble. The age group that most frequents these centres is 11-18, however the age limits are flexible on both ends.
In areas where there is a dearth of youth centres, councils have launched mobile youth services. In the City of Casey (South-Eastern suburbs of Melbourne), Casey 360 is such a service that caters to the youth as it moves around the rather large geographical area. As I toured the bus, which is actually a regular passenger bus that has been converted according to the requirements of a youth centre, I liked everything I saw. There is no shortage of technical equipment, such as LCD screens that can be used to watch movies, play games such as Wii and Playstation, along with music mixing equipment. There is a plethora of activities to choose from that are organised for the youth around the City of Casey, and special programs are catered for the youth during school holidays (most of which are free of cost).
Informal lounge at the back of the bus
There is an informal lounge where youngsters can just chill and hang out. There are two professional councillors available who can be approached for any reason, be it career guidance or trouble at school/home, or any other issue, and they will provide resource information and assist in every way possible. And the best part is that the bus can go around town and take these services along with it. It makes its presence known at large community events and high schools to encourage youth to participate. It largely caters to the youth who are linguistically, geographically and/or culturally isolated.
I personally think it is such a lovely idea to involve the youth and make them feel as an important part of the community. Please check out their website for more details.