Fifteen First Nations kids have been treated to a week-long skateboarding camp in the Victorian Highlands. The camp, organised by Anglesea YMCA, was the first of its kind in the region and aimed to connect kids to culture and country.
Camp Manager, Jason Stewart, said the camp provided the kids an important reprieve from personal struggles and gave them time with positive role models in a safe and fun environment.
“Many of these young people come from variety of challenging circumstances—some have
autism, others suffer from anxiety or identity insecurity. The camp was about providing a
safe place for a young Indigenous person to develop their identity and strengthen links to
culture and country,” Mr Stewart said.
Twelve-year-old Robert* said he enjoyed learning new skateboarding skills.
“I didn’t know how to skate ramps, but I do now, and can practise when I get home. I can’t
wait to start a new collection of skateboards.”
“I also really loved learning archery and I’m going to do archery with my aunty when I get home too,” he said.
Kids were able to channel creative energy by creating their own Skateworks Balance Stick and painting it with images of Dreaming and culture. The space opened conversations about challenges and obstacles and allowed personal growth and development.
The camp also hosted proud Gumbaynggirr man, Brodie Jarrett. Jarrett is highest ranking Indigenous skateboarder and accomplished artist.
The camp, held during the last school holidays, was a product of partnerships between YMCA Anglesea Recreation Camp, Ballarat and District Aboriginal Cooperative, Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Skateworks school holiday and Social Justice Indigenous programs.
The program has plans to expand into Ballarat and surrounds working with Social Justice Indigenous kids, the Fierce Aboriginal Girls group and Deadly Young Fellas group.
*Editor’s note: not the child’s real name.