PROJECT Y: EMPOWERING YARRA’S YOUTH

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by Lauren Sedgwick

 

Project Y, the latest initiative from the YMCA Victoria Youth Leadership and Development Unit, is transforming the lives of young people on the Collingwood and Richmond housing estates by helping them gain a positive connection to their community.

 

The three-year project, which is funded by the City of Yarra, provides a varied program of activities for residents between the ages of 12 and 25 years old.

 

Residents receive support and mentoring throughout the program and acquire valuable leadership skills for the future.

 

Activities run after school and during the holidays and participants could find themselves cooking one week and listening to group speakers the next.

 

The project’s most successful program has been the girls’ group, which aims to empower young women to become leaders in their community and, in turn, create a positive change within their own lives.

 

The girls contribute to the decision about which activities should be run, what the weekly themes of the meetings should be and also plan excursions for the group. They recently worked with a professional artist to complete a mural for the local community gym..

 

The three-year project, which is funded by the City of Yarra, provides a varied program of activities for residents between the ages of 12 and 25 years old.”

 

“Having my artwork on display makes me feel really proud; it was such a privilege having an artist to help us.” Said Malaz Mohamed-Bakhit, one of the girls group participants.

 

Project Y Program Development Officer, Chauntelle Westley, said the projects help connect the girls with the wider community.

 

“I think it’s was really important that they work together on projects like this because it starts conversations between the girls about how they view the community.” Said Ms Westley.

 

“The girls were really impressed with themselves and what they achieved. They got a feeling of being connected to the community, like a part of them was on display. It was really wonderful.” She said.

 

Project Y currently has a girls’ group at Collingwood and Richmond, a boys’ group at Richmond and mixed group at Collingwood.

 

The project is headed by a team of passionate and experienced youth workers, who work across the estates to make the sessions constructive and fun.

 

For more information about Project Y and volunteering opportunities, visit vicyouth.ymca.org.au.

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