Johnsonville teens pushing Wellington City Council for new youth centre
A group of Wellington teenagers are advocating for a designated facility to help keep youth off the streets.
Onslow College students Thalia Garam-Walford, Rachel Murray and Oliver Curran want to create a space for teenagers in Johnsonville to hang out in after school and on the weekends.
"We need a place that allows the youth to just be without having to buy food to stay in there or being kicked out for being loud," Murray said.
The idea for the youth centre came about as a result of a social action class the year 10 students took part in, where they discovered how few places existed for youth in their area.
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They decided to do something about it and contacted Onslow-Western councillor Andy Foster and former city councillor Jo Coughlan to discuss the idea.
However, Garam-Walford said their requests were met with little interest and in Foster's case, garnered no response at all.
Despite the setback the trio want to soldier on with their idea and have reached out to newly elected councillors in the Northern ward.
Jill Day, first-time councillor and children and young people portfolio leader, said she was ready and willing to listen to the students' ideas.
"Our young people have lots of great ideas and it's really important that they have a feeling that their voice can be heard."
She planned to organise a meeting with the three teenagers alongside fellow Northern ward councillors Malcolm Sparrow and Peter Gilberd.
While an official date for that meeting has yet to be scheduled, Day said she was already researching the current options available to youth in the area and whether those spaces could be re-purposed.
"At this point, we want to see if we can connect them with the Johnsonville Community Centre because there is actually a room there that was designated for youth."
Day hoped this project would serve as starting point for her plan to act as a middle-man between Wellington's youth and the city council.
"I just want to be there to listen and support them as they learn along the way and figure out what might be the best way forward.
"It's really important in our community to have our young people feeling very much part of it."