A three-year programme to raise the number of young people taking part in sport started at Fraser Park last night.
Connex is a Hutt City Council initiative, funded by Sport New Zealand's Active Communities.
"We know there is a drop-off in sport participation in the 16- to 20-year age group," council recreation and events manager Duncan Chisholm said.
"We want to reconnect them with sport; give them the chance to get a taste of different activities in a fun, non-pressured, non-competitive atmosphere."
The council's plan involves three elements.
The sport-in-parks concept will see a trio of sessions held at Fraser and Naenae parks, and the Taita Community Centre.
"It's free, you just drop in and give it a go," Mr Chisholm said.
Sports offered include softball, rugby league and netball plus non-traditional games - futsal, ki o rahi and ultimate frisbee.
The second is a leadership programme, where 16- to 20-year-olds take on a guidance role.
"We plan to take 10 young people and put them through a national certificate level 2 in sport and recreation through Skills Active. We will also put them through a leadership module from Sport New Zealand called Growing Leaders," he said.
It is a chance for young people with an interest in sport but no qualifications to gain some.
"That's an exciting part to this, we're offering some clear paths for young people."
The third aspect links those interested in sport to local clubs.
"That's the ultimate challenge - to increase club membership," Mr Chisholm said.
Connex also wants to establish a youth advisory group to get feedback from people about what sports they want to do.
Connex will operate in Naenae and Taita, areas with high numbers of under-25s.
Sessions are: Mondays 4.30pm till 7pm at Fraser Park; Thursdays 4.30pm till 7pm at Naenae Park; Fridays 6.30pm till 9pm at Taita Community Hall, Taine St.
"Come along with your mates, listen to a bit of music, have a bit of food and try out some sport.
"It's all about delivering sport on your doorstep."
- Hutt News