The Y is a large organisation that’s all about creating millions of small moments that really matter, and recognising the thousands of incredible individuals who make those moments happen. PJ, (Patrick O’Meara) Youth Empowerment Program Coordinator for the Y in NSW is one of these individuals.
PJ was a completing his university studies in psychology when he came across the opportunity to get involved as an instructor for Streetgym, a new outreach program being developed by the Y. The now highly successful program exists to provide a safe, accessible and fun environment where young people can participate in a variety of sport and recreation activities.
“It’s really important for young people’s wellbeing,” explains PJ, “If we forget about young people being involved with recreation, camping and fitness, they’d be glued to their PlayStation or glued to their TV.”
Streetgym has become a ‘soft entry point’ into the Y for young people in need, offering an easier, non-intimidating introduction into the other programs and services offered by the Y. By partnering with Streetgym, organisations and programs such as Headspace and Youth Parliament have seen an increase in engagement. Without PJ and the team at Streetgym, it’s likely that many of these young people would have never sought help.
The program has been well received in a number of suburbs across NSW since it was first introduced to the high-risk suburb of Telopea in September 2017. The program was a great success and saw dozens of young people filtering through the Y’s various other programs after being engaged by Streetgym.
Streetgym’s most recent endeavour in the Mt. Annan region has also seen high levels of engagement in its first few months of operation. “Last week we had 26 young people down here participating,” says PJ, “Without street gym, what would those young people be doing?”
For PJ, working with Streetgym has been as transformative as it has for the many kids and teens whose lives have been touched by the program. “It wasn’t really until I started working at Streetgym that I knew that this was the type of work I wanted to do,” says PJ, “I’m working with at risk young people and really making a difference in their lives.”
Whether it’s giving young leaders like PJ the opportunity to uncover their full potential, or providing at-risk youth with a chance to choose a safer and more rewarding path in life, the Y is committed to creating a million moments that really matter in the lives of Australia’s young people.
“Without street gym what would those young people be doing?”
– PJ O’Meara