A speech by Rosi Okeno encapsulated the journey up until this point; she thanked all those involved, naming every member of the team, saying how without their support it would not have been possible to open the Morisset PCYC.
Mr Best emphasised how important particular people were in the journey leading up to the opening of the facility. “Council have been the huge supporters; both the State Member and Federal Members are here today and have supported us; finally John Mills, along with RosiOkeno, would be considered the great contributors to getting this off the ground” said Mr Best. Ms Okeno was again congratulated on her efforts in making a PCYC in Morisset possible. Anita Barker, Aboriginal Community Justice Group Coordinator, smiled as she noted Ms Okeno’s tenacity: “I applaud Rosi and her people for not giving up on this facility” she said.
The opening of the facility will allow the community to engage with one another and give people, especially youth, a place to enjoy themselves and make friends.
“The main benefit of Morisset PCYC is to get young people active in life” exclaimed Ms Okeno. “We need access, kids down here need something to do” agreed Ms Barker. Like Okeno, she expressed how much of an impact the PCYC facility will have on the community. “It will be really positive; it’s all about linking. We all work together in partnership for the benefit of the kids in the community” she said. “It’s not only about a place to go, it’s about activities. If we gets kids involved in sports it reduces their risk of harm and failing to attend school”. The PCYC will make that happen by running sport programmes, hosting the monthly art2264 art program, and providing positive youth activities, to develop their skills character and leadership.
The Rotary Club presented a cheque for $4000 to the Morisset PCYC, funding which will allow for new programmes and workshops to be run.
The turnout included over 100 members of the public who, after the official ribbon cutting ceremony, either participated in the art workshops or snacked on the delicious food donated by Brumby’s Bakery. “To be honest, I was a bit cynical of the numbers to expect; but I have quickly learnt that in a community like this, the community wants to engage,” noted a pleased Mr Best.
art2264 @ Morisset PCYC, the new free monthly youth arts program to be hosted by the PCYC, held three workshops at the opening including African Drumming, Mosaic mural and Hip-Hop dance. Led by artist MargreteErling the mosaic workshop was designed to allow any age to participate, and used tiles of various colours, with emphasis on the blue and red of the PCYC. Adults and children alike revelled in the activity allowing themselves to get messy and creative. The finished mosaic mural will be a boy and a girl, which will become the signs for the toilets in the facility.
Meanwhile, the infectious rhythms of African drumming resonated through the building. Wearing a long flowered dress, drum leader Issabella Berrigan taught participants how to ‘slap’ the drum. “Base, base, tone, tone, slap, slap”, Ms Berrigan instructed the group, then helped them build a rhythm using the elements they had learnt. Participants engaged with each other as they drummed in unison, encouraging each other to keep up with the ever increasing rhythm.
The increase in pace lead to lots of laughter and smiles from those trying to keep up, “It’s working on your coordination,” Ms Berrigan said with a grin as her hands fluttered across the drum’s surface. Drumming will feature in future art2264 workshops; as Ms Berrigan explained, “It’s really accessible, and it’s actually quite physical as well”.
As the afternoon sun beat down, and the temperature inside soared, Lauren Wheatley of Lift Dance Fitness led a hip-hop dance workshop. Children did a group dance following Ms Wheatley’s moves, to chart music, with some participants showing off their solo skills. When the noise of the drums temporarily overpowered their music, the group did ‘Zumba’ moves to the beat of the drums instead.
Everyone at the opening was wearing a smile, showing just how positive Morisset PCYC is for the community. The whole atmosphere was playful with all in attendance getting involved somehow.
art2264will continue to run workshops on the third Friday of the month from 4 to about 8pm with all events focussing on being creative. The next event, catering for both primary and high school aged children, will include hip-hop dance, African drumming and mosaic, will be on the 18th of November at the Morisset PCYC.
The Morisset Sustainable Neighbourhood Group have given unwavering support for the programme and for the benefits the whole centre will bring to the community. It will provide a positive place for youths to engage and enjoy their community as well as somewhere groups can be run to promote youths learning about and becoming sustainable. By giving the youths something to do it will eliminate the risk of vandalism and un-social behaviour in the community, which will in turn allow the area to be more sustainable and viable.
With the support of many people and groups in the Morisset and Lake Macquarie community the centre is sure to thrive, if the opening is anything to go by, there will be a constant elevated buzz and community spirit by the residents of the Lake Macquarie precinct.
Those attending who did not participate in the creative workshops, formed their own groups. People played basketball in a group laughing and enjoying the new facilities. Both MP Greg Combet and Mayor Greg Piper participated in a group of soccer with those at the opening, showing their enthusiasm for the new facility.