A Northern suburbs youth program has celebrated two years of building positive change with an end of year celebration held at the Shed in Rocherlea.
The Adventure Play Across the Northern Suburbs program is a youth engagement program designed to develop social and cultural capital within its participants, while building resilience around issues young people face.
The program focuses on play-based therapy, intended to destress and address anxiety while building social and emotional capital.
It aims to help participants overcome social and mental health issues through the benefits of sport, including physical activity, goal-setting, teamwork, confidence, and having fun.
Adventure play project officer Georgia Axton said now in its second year, the project had been received well - with interest in the community growing.
"The response has been positive, we have schools with lists of kids wanting to be a part of the program and would fit the program objectives,'' she said.
Ms Axton said many of the activities were things that promote resilience and social coupling.
We go rock climbing or go for a bushwalk, just any activities that de-stress and help with social and emotional building.
The program has grown to include 70 participants while still maintaining a focus on smaller groups to ensure engagement and meet the needs of the participants.
"We try to keep the group small so that our care can be more focused on them," Ms Axton said.
Ms Axton said while still young, the play-based therapy program had produced many positive results.
"We're seeing improved social skills and emotional regulation skills because play is so crucial to young people's lives and development, it's such a fundamental activity," she said.
With funding for three years, Ms Axton said the program would continue into 2022 with a new group of young people coming on board, while some of the older participants from the 2021 program would step into mentoring roles.
"Some of them will slip into a leadership role, so they'll be mentors for the new kids that come along, and some will transition out of the program," she said.
The program was funded through a $433,640 federal government grant as part of the driving social inclusion through sport and physical activity grant scheme.
Bass Liberal MHR Bridget Archer said the grant had been put to good use with the program addressing significant social issues in the North of the state.
UTAS Research Fellow at the School of Social Sciences and the Tasmanian Policy Exchange Dr Susan Banks is an academic reviewing the outcomes of the project, and said the attendance rate of the program was a key indicator of the value it provided.
She said many young people struggled to engage with programs if they felt excluded or stigmatised, and said the willingness of the Adventure Play participants to engage and try new things was a key indicator of a successful program.
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Starting Point Neighbourhood House social worker Todd Mitchell was one of the project officers overseeing the program and said he had witnessed positive change and development in many of the participants
"Sometimes it's subtle with some kids, and other kids just coming along really well," he said.
"Often it's just little things like social skills or just being able to be part of a group, having conversations with peers or adults or just having general confidence. "It's been a big aim of ours, to build that self-worth in young people because they are still finding their identity."
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