THE continued success of the local One Step Closer program shows there is a growing demand for youth-centric safe spaces in Armadale, according to local not-for-profit organisation Save the Children.
In the space of just a few weeks participation numbers at One Step Closer have soared, from 30 in this year’s first session to almost 80 just six weeks later.
The program runs every Friday night during the school term as a safe space for Aboriginal youth aged eight to 15 to hang out, providing them transport to and from Bob Blackburn Reserve, workshops on local Aboriginal culture and developing life skills, as well as offering a chance to participate in sport and enjoy a healthy meal.
Save the Children regional coordinator Heidi Holman said the rapid growth of One Step Closer in the last few weeks showed a need for more programs like it in the area.
“The growth in participants has shown that we are providing a program that is both enjoyable and accessible to young people and demonstrates the need for an increase on safe places in the Armadale area,” she said.
“The One Step Closer program has proven to be a successful youth engagement model that supports young people’s positive belonging in their community and culture, increases their life skills and acts as an effective deterrent to street presence and criminal activity in the community.
“The effectiveness of the program does contribute to supporting a safer community by providing a safe place for young people to engage in meaningful programs, but we can go a lot further as a community to support our young people by providing a permanent youth hub for young people to receive the services they need at the right time.”
Save the Children youth engagement team leader Samantha Dragon said demand could be seen in the connections between other local programs.
“One Step Closer staff work across the two Armadale Save the Children youth engagement programs-One Step Closer and Drug Aware Ignite Basketball, and this has increased connections and rapport with young people in the community as many young people attend both programs,” she said.
One Step Closer is at Bob Blackburn Reserve, Armadale from 6pm to 8.30pm every Friday night during the school term.