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Our Youth Service team delivers fun and a safe space to connect

‘Open Up the Ridge’ is a free and inclusive event that the ATSICHS Youth Service team runs in partnership with the YMCA at Acacia Ridge every Friday afternoon. A typical scene involves teenagers bouncing basketballs around on the court with a couple of coaches, painting canvases while yarning with youth case managers and choosing nail polish or having their hair curled at a beauty station.

YMCA Youth Space Coordinator Ben Wharton said it’s been great to collaborate with ATSICHS Brisbane in delivering the program. “The program is designed to provide a place for young people to connect safely and build relationships with their friends but also other adults who are able to help them if they’ve got any issues that might need addressing,” Ben said.

ATSICHS Youth Service Team Leader Alicia Eaves has prepared a packed calendar of events and explained about a focus on early intervention in program delivery. Alicia said the number of young people participating in ‘Open Up the Ridge’ has grown a lot since the Youth Service team started collaborating with the YMCA in October, illustrating how youth are enjoying the event and spreading the word.

Alicia highlighted how helpful other teams have been in contributing and collaborating to bolster the rollout of youth programs. “We’ve had so much support from the Deadly Choices and Outreach teams.”

Youth Justice Family Led Decision Making Practitioner Jess Evans said she loves helping the programs team and interacting with community. “I’m all about being a positive influence and giving young people experience with mentors and we’ve seen girls who were quite timid at first building a lot of confidence, opening up and engaging more,” she said.

After having her hair curled by Jess, 13-year-old Khloe shares her thoughts on ‘Open Up the Ridge’. “I really like group activities and there is such a wide range of activities. You can do anything from sports to play station to hanging out with friends,” Khloe said. “Everyone is very nice and involved in all the fun things to do.”

“Normally on a Friday afternoon, I’d just be sitting on my phone but instead this is giving me opportunities to be out in the community, making new friends.”

‘Open Up the Ridge’ runs from 1 pm to 5 pm every Friday at the Acacia Ridge YMCA and all young people are welcome.

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