Teens turn to

TEENS who are usually labelled “newly arrived immigrants” or “refugees” are given the space to establish their own identity at RecWest in Braybrook.
Andrew Hyland, manager of the sporting complex, has made the centre a place where teenagers can feel they belong.
Mr Hyland began running free sports nights three years ago at RecWest.
“We established Saturday night entertainment at the centre with a clear view of fostering ownership among young people in the community,” he said.
Mr Hyland said before setting up the program he would see teenagers from Horn of Africa communities struggling to adapt and to be accepted in the community.
“It’s designed so that teenagers can drop-in, and we try to remove every barrier.
“We’d pick them up by bus if they didn’t have transport to the centre.”
About 80 children, aged between 12 and 17, enjoyed the program every Saturday night.
Mr Hyland said the RecWest program had also been successfully adapted to meet the needs of a number of Muslim girls.
“There’s a multi-purpose room down a corridor and we close the door at the start of the corridor so the girls can take off their scarves and run amok, playing games.”
He believed it was important for teenagers to feel comfortable while they were at RecWest.
“I wanted to make a place where they could belong in this community, to walk in and act like they owned the joint.” Mr Hyland said he encouraged an attitude of freedom, respect and openness at the centre.

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