Nannup’s Local Drug Action Team in Western Australia is keeping young people connected in the era of COVID-19.
While their face-to-face ‘Youth Zone’ has had to close its doors for the time being, the group is determined that young people will still have access to social and recreational activities.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the LDAT is adapting by running weekly online art workshops led by local artist Leanne White.
“We realised that this is still an opportunity to engage young people, but in a different way. At first, I was a bit concerned but it’s been really uplifting. People in the community are really supportive of the idea,” Local Drug Action Group member Andrea Jenkins said.
Andrea acknowledges that it’s particularly important at this time for community members to feel connected, even if it can’t be face to face.
“Nannup is an amazing place. It’s a community that always makes people feel welcome and connected. We are small but we band together, no matter what happens,” she said.
Youth Zone usually engages young people aged between 12-17 but has been broadened so that children of any age and their families can participate and connect.
Each week, the LDAT posts a new activity in a social media group, which is also used as a platform for participants to share their artwork and interact with others in the community. There are over forty members in the group.
On Friday morning, free art supplies are left outside local art store ‘The Wild Eyed Shop’ for families and young people to take home. Each class has a different theme and there are classes for kindergarten students, primary school students and teenagers.
The LDAT is looking at ways they can extend the online workshops to include other activities, including at-home skateboarding workshops.
“We’ve created a beautiful art bubble but would like to do more programs so that we can connect with more people. We’re also wanting to use the social media platform to push out more messages around mental health, importance of spending time together and staying connected,” Andrea said.
Prior to the pandemic, the LDAT had just been kicking off the Youth Zone. It was a space for teenagers to learn skills, hang out and connect with one another.
Andrea said that the Youth Zone was created to ensure young people felt valued in the community, and to connect them with local services.
“It’s also about creating ties between community organisations that youth wouldn’t connect with usually like the men’s shed, Country Women’s Association, and all the awesome calendar events and festivals we have on in Nannup,” she said.
Nannup’s Local Drug Action Team is a partnership between the Shire of Nannup, Nannup Community Resource Centre and Local Drug Action Groups Inc (Nannup Branch).