BY JOANA PARTYKA
YMCA HQ has once again joined in the festivities of National Youth Week 2011, one of the nation’s biggest celebrations of young people.
Kicking off around the country last week, National Youth Week is an important event on Australia’s calendar of youth initiatives run jointly by federal, state, territory and local governments.
Running over 10 days in April, National Youth Week goes beyond the strict definition of a “week”, but who are we to complain when there are so many inspiring events on offer?
YMCA HQ taking an active role with youth
One of the primary supporters of National Youth Week in Perth is YMCA HQ, the state’s premier multi-purpose youth facility based in Leederville.
The facility is home to a number of youth initiatives including a skateboarding project, the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and an arts scheme.
YMCA HQ’s Art Coordinator Poppy Van Oorde-Grainger is very practical in her role, organising a range of creative activities for young and disadvantaged people all year round.
A professional artist, Ms Van Oorde-Grainger combines her passions for art and inspirational young people by delivering arts workshops to people aged 12 to 25 in and around Perth.
She says getting involved with National Youth Week is important to YMCA HQ.
“It’s really about promoting a positive image of young people.
“I think that’s important for the young people: to make them feel valued, increase their sense of belonging to a place, increase their self-esteem, and make them feel a part of society.
“A lot of the time there’s a really bad portrayal of young people in the media, and some people have a bad opinion of young people, and that’s ridiculous.”
Welcome to my world
Ms Van Oorde-Grainger recently concluded a 10-week program with students of Aranmore Catholic College’s Intensive English Centre, which saw participants create a range of handmade bags and accessories.
The project, “Welcome to my World”, was a runaway success at Kickstart Youth Market at Perth Cultural Centre on 3 April.
The project involved young refugees from a range of backgrounds who speak little to no English.
Ms Van Oorde-Grainger said they all felt a great sense of achievement in their creative endeavours.
“It’s good to engage them in something that’s not literacy and numeracy that they can really excel in.
“Getting them to do something in public at the National Youth Week event was really good for them to be embraced as part of the WA community.”
The future’s looking good
The arts program at YMCA HQ is brimming with a variety of events, workshops and projects. Ms Van Oorde-Grainger has high hopes for its future, feeling compelled to share her passion with disadvantaged youth.
She agrees with Federal Minister for Youth Peter Garrett’s assertion that youth are Australia’s greatest natural resource—almost.
“I don’t think they’re the most important resource, but of course they’re really, really important,” she said.
“It sounds a bit cheesy, but they’re the future.”