Story & photo Melissa Hargraves
Eighteen months ago, if you had gone down to the Goonellabah skate park you probably wouldn’t have liked what you saw: drug use, vandalism and kids making trouble were not uncommon.
A program aimed at turning it all around wrapped up last weekend with a special celebration.
Youth Connections North Coast Inc (YCNC) and Lismore City Council (LCC) hosted the event called ‘Beat the drum – Break a move – Change the tune’, which featured local and interstate music, dance and skate performances.
The social-inclusion program was funded by the Department of Attorney General – Proceeds of Crimes Act and FACS Community Builders and has transformed the skate park from an antisocial space to a place of respect and activity.
Brigitte Kaelinn, who coordinated the YCNC program for the last six months, is positive about the future of the space.
She told Echonetdaily, ‘There are things we have to change, but a lot of good has come out of this project, regarding behaviour’.
‘The awareness has changed so much, particularly what bullying means and how it feels, and also how sharing feels.
‘Basically we ask what [young people] want to do so they don’t get bored.’
YCNC provided food and drink to kids as part of the program. Skateboarding Australia and Northern Rivers Skateboard Coaching have been providing clinics at the space and a very competent youth worker actually skates with the young people.
Another youth worker is a competent hip-hop MC/dancer and used this as a way to interest and engage young people.
The event drew a talented line-up. Impossible Odds are a Brisbane-based hip-hop duo that are currently at the top of the Air-It AMRAP charts. Dhinawan and the Deadly Dancers dropped in and gave a traditional performance before heading off on an international tour. Also on the line-up were Supafresh, Nathan DJ’ing, CPC Dancers, and INTRA had a graffiti stall around the concrete blocks.
Lismore community radio 92.9 RiverFM was streaming live at the event as part of an Aboriginal Health Program to increase awareness about otitis media – middle ear infection.
YCNC offers a range of services and programs and delivers youth-focused community events to support and celebrate young people and families in Lismore and the surrounding region. Go to http://ycnc.com.au for upcoming events and support services.