By ERWIN CHLANDA
“Life skills are how you behave when you’re out with your mates, how you show respect for each other, or how to behave when you’re in a house or some organisation, have respect for themselves.”
The Gap Youth and Community Centre, which celebrated its 40th birthday on Saturday, is aiming higher than just giving a meal to kids dropped off by the Town Council and Congress youth patrol before they’re taken home.
CEO Michelle Krauer says it also aims at learning beyond literacy and numeracy. Cooking, arts and crafts, media, using computers, script writing are all part of the activities offered, as well as schooling in Indigenous traditions.
These are skills that can prepare kids for jobs as much as giving them a voice in a community where they are currently under intense scrutiny by the public and politicians.
The centre’s close connection with the kids and their trust in it allow staff to pinpoint problems and refer kids to other agencies where necessary.
Between his turns on the waterslide hired for the day, a Year 10 youth going to Centralian College told the Alice Springs News Online he wanted a career in music after finishing Year 12.
A Year 6 student said he’s aiming for arts and was looking forward to a drawing competition that was part of the party.
A younger boy who lives in Gap Road said he goes to the Saint Joseph School. He didn’t yet have plans for the future.
The Gap Centre, four decades in its present location, is without doubt the suburb’s most enduring institution, mostly government funded, from Darwin as well as Canberra, boosted after the recent spotlight on youth crime.
James Swan started boxing there, taught by the legendary Graham Ross.
Justine Swan developed her love for dancing which led to her joining the Bangarra Dance Theatre.
Formal programs include Reconnect, from 9am to 5pm weekdays.
During term, after school activities are offered between 3pm and 5pm. About 45 kids attend. When school is out the hours are 8.30am to 5pm.
“It’s happy chaos” during the after-hour drop-in sessions on Thursdays (4pm to 9pm), Fridays (4pm to 11pm) and Saturdays (6pm to 11pm), with 70 to 120 kids partying on any given night, says Ms Krauer.
The Gap Centre has no links with the Youth Centre on Anzac Oval.
The Gap Centre works with the YORET staff who are located in the NT Government office on the corner of Wills Terrace and Stuart Highway through regular meetings and their staff attending our after hours programs.
PHOTO at top: Di Sandford with Lanai Thackeray as she cuts the cake for Chelsea, Lakarsha, Connie, Zara, Ollie, Angus and others. Above: Staff and helpers (from left) Michelle Krauer, Lanai Thackeray, Nathaniel Bryers, Di Sandford, Laura-Jane Voris, Damien Curtis, Sarah Rossiter, Ahsleigh Pepperill, Andrea Cooper; child in front Larkarsha.