Home > News > Archive > 11th September 2007

Building momentum for youth centre

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
Field of Dreams
FIELD OF DREAMS: standing on the Brill Road section where a house will be built to generate funds for a youth centre in Te Awamutu are, from left: Neville Kemp, Chris Gadsby, Gregg Tickelpenny, Elizabeth Shoobert and Anthony Campbell. 254071AD

By Grant Johnston

A vision held by a dedicated group of Te Awamutu people for a youth centre in the town’s CBD is building momentum - literally.

Fundraising co-ordinator, Chris Gadsby is leading a project to build a house in a picturesque rural setting near Kihikihi - with profits giving the youth centre project a jump start.

Mr Gadsby, an agent with Ray White Real Estate, says the idea for the project came to him early one morning. “I sat bolt upright in bed, woke up my wife Yvonne and told her that I had heard God telling me that we should buy the Brill Road section and build a house to help the youth centre.”

The couple did just that - putting up the $165,000 for the section purchase from their own funds. Once the property sells they will be repaid, but in anyone’s book it is an act of faith on their part.

It is hoped that the housing initiative will raise around $80,000 for the project.

“I know just how sincere and passionate the people involved with the youth centre project are and how genuine the need for it is. We owe it to the youth of our town to give this our utmost support,” Mr Gadsby says. “We’ve had so much goodwill and support already. People know how important this project is.”

The section owners discounted the section and have offered to remove hedging and help with fencing. Ray White Real Estate listing agent, Neville Kemp gave up his commission and company principal/owner, Gregg Tickelpenny matched that - reducing the section price by another $7,500. Lawyers for both the purchasers and vendors waived their fees. The BNZ has discounted loan interest. There have been offers of discounted or free labour from a roofer, electrician and plumber (other tradespeople welcome - contact Mr Gadsby at 027 246 5800). There is no shortage of youth volunteers willing to help out with landscaping, painting or anything required of them.

Te Awamutu Youth Services, a recent initiative set up by Living Waters Trust, has 140 clients already, assisted by 10 volunteers. It is a not-for-profit social service organisation with a focus on youth. Leaders are affiliated to different local churches and include Intermediate School teacher and youth pastor, Geoff Brown (director), youth counsellor/teacher and youth pastor, Anthony Campbell (secretary) and youth worker Elizabeth Shoobert.

The establishment of a youth centre in town is seen by the group as a pressing need.

“We see that the youth and young people within our community have a lack of safe spaces and environments,” says Te Awamutu Youth Services. “We work with young people on a daily basis and many of us are not long past the age of being classified as teenager, so we can easily relate with the youth and see their dilemmas in relation to the lack of entertainment and knowledge of resources available to them. The youth centre needs to be a stable, suitable and accessible facility, where all youth are welcome, regardless of their personal background, ethnicity, gender or status - a facility that will cater to the needs of youth and is relevant to them.

“We know that when the youth centre is running, the services and programmes we will offer will not only effect our existing clients, but also the many youth and families within Te Awamutu, as well as local schools, businesses and the police (curbing youth crime). We aim to assist in the holistic development of youth in Te Awamutu. We aim to provide safe environments for youth to make positive life choices and to encourage participation in activities that will benefit our wider community and enable them to gain an appreciation for serving the community.

“Youth need to know that people care about them. Resources need to be readily available and support services must be well known and accessible to them in order for the services to be used to their maximum potential.”

The plan is to lease a suitable facility in the CBD and to pay a youth worker to run the facility (with plenty of volunteer help). There is a projected annual budget of $80,000 including all operating costs, equipment, programme costs etc. Volunteers have already approached the group offering to run art, martial arts and carving programmes, as well as carrying out tasks such as cooking and helping in the everyday running of the facility - including free accounting services.

If you wish to find out more about the youth centre project or to help in any way, phone Te Awamutu Youth Services at 871 3888.