National Youth Week Kicks Off With Pool Party 

OCTEC Youth Connections threw a party with a cause the 6th of April. Their Youth Week Pool Party, affiliated with the Orange City Council, was a splashy way to kick off National Youth Week in Orange, NSW and featured music and games and even connected local businesses with the community.

OCTEC Youth Connections works with kids aged between 11 and 19 to give them options about how to stay in school or find other ways to finish Year 12. Kids in the free program will benefit from mentoring and individual case management as they endeavor to finish their education or start training for a career.

Christopher Novak of OCTEC Youth Connections said that the organization aims to help young people who are struggling to gain control over their lives and their environments. “We support young people to obtain their educational goals and support them through referrals to other agencies which can assist them further,” he said. “We monitor and maintain contact with the young people through individual meetings and small groups, we also see young people at schools. We are funded directly by the federal government through DEEWR (Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations).

Aside from being the launch party for National Youth Week, Novak said the party allowed for young people to experience a different kind of disco. “At the party we hired the local indoor aquatic centre, had games, prizes and a video disco. The party was different from normal discos because the young people could swim, splash and play while listen to the latest music,” he said. “The party was well attended with about 50 young people. Local businesses and other agencies came on board by supplying prizes and volunteers for the night. The party also highlighted the new indoor pool and gave practical experience for young TAFE students supporting the event.” TAFE, as referenced by Novak, is TAFE NSW. According to the organisation’s site, TAFE NSW is “Australia’s leading public vocational education and training provider for more than 100 years.”

In order to promote the pool party, physical and audio advertisements were used. “We went to schools to sell tickets, put it in local school newsletters,” said Novak. “We also put an article in the local paper, used the community connect which offers free TV and radio for non-for-profit events.”

The party was a huge success, according to Novak. The event went very smoothly. There were no incidents, no one was kicked out,” he said. “We gave out heaps of prizes and all the young people commented on how much fun they had. The local public also commented on how good the event was, as did the local pool staff, saying that some of the kids were totally different, referring to their behaviour. (This is a good thing).”

“The highlight was the bombing competition,” continued Novak. “The young people really got into it. The young person who won was so excited to win, he was jumping around, giving high fives to everyone, and the smiles and laughter was amazing. The other competitions were great too because all the young people really got into the events and participated well and had so much fun.”

This was the first time an event like this had been thrown by OCTEC Youth Connections. Novak said that he hopes more people will attend the next time the event is held.

Novak said that in order to plan an event like this, the community’s backing is very important.

“Community support is the key to any event. Don’t have the illusion that it’s easy–there are tough times and obstacles which will you will need to overcome,” he said.  “Don’t be put off; work through them and the prize is seeing young people having good safe fun.”

“Having the support of agencies and councils is so important,” he continued. “The goal should be to have the event, not the attendance, especially the first time. Also [important is] making sure all the bases are covered, from security to first aid[.]  [I]f anything does go wrong, have a strong plan to deal with it. Most of [all,] have fun. [I]t’s an experience and you can make some strong connections with other services and people which will help you run other events.”

To learn more about OCTEC Youth Connections, click here and here. To learn more about TAFE NSW, click here.