New youth group for Selwyn

by Kent Caddick

Moves are underway to establish a new youth advisory group to represent the needs of the young people of Selwyn.

A meeting involving a group of Selwyn youth, aged between 12 and 24 years, was held recently at Rolleston’s Generation House, a community facility supported by the Salvation Army.

Helping to guide the new Selwyn Youth Advisory Group (SYAG) is former Selwyn District Council youth advisor Chris Martin. “Generation House is a space where the entire community is welcome. It is where people meet, teach, encourage and empower,” Mr Martin said. “Young people are a significant part of our community and need opportunities to connect to belong to a community.

“The youth of Rolleston need a place to go, something to do, a space they own and people who care. I also know that our community is full of incredible young people who are capable of achieving amazing things.”

Many of those who attended the first meeting of the SYAG were former members of the Selwyn Youth Council, which, under Mr Martin’s mentorship, won a number of national awards for their work.

“It is fitting these young people are involved because it was really their vision which resulted in the set up of Generation House in the first place,” Mr Martin said.

“The youth council always wanted to set up a place where young people of the district could meet to exchange ideas and have a space where those ideas could become reality, whether that be a performance space, a learning area or even a radio station.

“Generation House is way more than they imagined but is based on their values and what they wanted to do. So while the youth council is no longer involved we want to honour the spirit of what they wanted and give the young people of the district a chance to speak to the project now.”

Mr Martin said they have been offered a space on the Generation House property to achieve their goals.

A six-car garage has been offered to the youth group and funding is in place to line the garage.

“We wanted the young people of the district to have a look at the space and to come forward with ideas on how best to use it.

“We aren’t going to tell them what the space is for, we want to hear from them what they think is the best use for the space, and we will help to make it happen.”

Mr Martin has been a youth worker for around 30 years and is currently working as a youth advisor with other regional councils and community groups.

He said some of the ideas which came out of the inaugural meeting of the youth advisory group for using the space included a dance studio, developing a social enterprise scheme, setting up a community garden, and as a base for community events.