Volunteers underpin youth centre success
Laughter greets you before you cross the threshold of Studio 20. Inside, the foyer is filled with effervescent parents waiting to pick up their charges. The giggles are contagious.
“Children leave this place bouncing,” quips volunteer Bianca Eliseo. “They come, are engaged, and leave lighter.”
It’s school holidays and Aldinga’s youth centre is in full swing. A drama class is underway, with art, reading, cooking, and much more on the two-week program for eight-to-18-year-olds. In the evenings there will be welding workshops, barista classes, and leadership tutoring for the under 25s.
“This place is a beacon for our community; there’s structured learning but also a sense of belonging, a safe place to grow,” Bianca says.
Studio 20 has eight registered volunteers and each one “plays a pivotal role in the success of the centre and the work we do with young people”, says Coordinator, Craig Cooper. “The volunteers support administration by recording data and taking bookings, as well as supporting the youth programs, engaging and empowering young people.
“It’s all about safety and fun – and support – just like the old saying, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’.
“That’s what we are doing here thanks to volunteers like Bianca,” Craig says.
Similar to many of the young people who attend, Bianca finds Studio 20 provides a space to engage and grow. After 10-years as a chef, she was looking for new challenges. That was two years ago and today Bianca works as a school support officer as well as volunteering at Studio 20.
“This is my home, I love being here, and I love watching children grow into young artists, cooks, radio announcers,” Bianca says.
“I thought cooking was my passion but coming here I realised working with kids directly was something I wanted to do, so now I work in a local primary school. I never thought coming to a youth centre to volunteer would change my whole world; my personal and career development, but it has.
“It’s reignited the fire, and I feel like I’m me again.”
Bianca Eliseo plays
rabbits, hares and foxes with Studio 20 youth.