Young Cantabrians have nowhere to go

TIM FULTON
Last updated 16:31 26/06/2014

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Canterbury's young people are crying out for more event and meeting spaces but find themselves excluded or unable to pay for them, even when they're available.

A shortage of facilities, sport and recreation was the top response in a survey of nearly 3500 youth in Christchurch and the Waimakariri and Selwyn districts. The findings followed debate in the past week over the value of the Government spending about $20m on a new central city playground on the site of the former Centennial swimming pool.

The 2013 Youth Wellbeing Survey also coincided with the the Ministry of Youth Affairs announcing a $100,000 Youth Initiative Fund for the province.

The survey, led by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA), gathered views from 3441 young people aged 12-24.

It found the most common negative experience as a result of the earthquakes was the loss of regular meeting places, including cafes, restaurants, libraries, places of worship, arts and cultural centres.

This response was closely followed by distress or anxiety caused by aftershocks, transport problems and being in a damaged home, school or workplace.

The lack of facilities for youth rang true for Tayla Reece, a 19-year-old student involved with the Waimakariri Youth Council and a separate group, WAIyouth.

In Waimakariri it was hard for young people to access facilities, either because they had been lost in the earthquakes or because people would not take venue bookings for their age group.

This was despite many venues having a no drug and alcohol policy and would-be hirers being happy with this policy.The alternative of hiring a marquee was often too expensive, Reece said.

She expected the youth council and WAIyouth would apply for the Canterbury Youth Initiative Fund to help hold meetings, workshops, parties and other ''fun events'' for the Waimakariri district.

In terms of social activities and entertainment, 58 per cent of survey respondents agreed there were good opportunities for them in the greater Christchurch area (including Selwyn and Waimakariri).

Young people were also asked what, if anything, excited them about the Canterbury rebuild.

New, modern buildings rated highest, followed by a feeling the city would be better than before.

A lesser number were stimulated by having interesting places to hang out, ''everything being new'' and an increase in sporting facilities and opportunities for recreation.

Just over a third of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with ''the opportunities the public has had to influence earthquake recovery decisions".

General observations were that young people who were unemployed and/or living with a long-term health condition or disability tended to have lower quality of life, were less socially connected and had higher levels of stress.

Those who had left school, particularly aged 19-24 years, tended to have more ''negative scores'' in the survey than school students.

Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye said CERA's comparative data suggested the young people of Christchurch seemed to be doing better than other groups in some areas, particularly on measures of quality of life and sense of community.

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The Youth Initiative Fund would act as a catalyst for youth-led initiatives in Canterbury, Kaye said.

- Fairfax Media

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