Youth worker Emma Odering
This article about Lyttelton Youth Centre is from 2009.
“To be there to support our young people every day and have them trust us enough that they’ll come to us if they need us” – that’s how Emma Odering, full-time Youth Worker at the Lyttelton Youth Centre, sums up the work she does.
Emma’s role and that of the youth helpers at the centre is often one of providing a friendly ear, she says.
They’ll come and say whatever’s going on with them and they know they’re not going to be judged for it, and that they we’ll be there to support them. And they can’t necessarily do that with their parents. So for us the big thing is that we’re reliable and they know us because we’ve built that relationship with them over the years and it’s about looking after them, I suppose.
The centre opened in early 2005. Lyttelton teen Matt Collins, who now helps out at the centre, was there.
I was actually at the meeting where it was decided to set up the youth centre. My sister and I were the only young people there.
He’s grateful that it finally got up and running.
It kind of gave me somewhere to go away from home, away from nagging parents. It’s a good meeting place, a place to meet up with your mates.
Shannon, Matt and Jamie-Lee use the
Lyttelton Youth Centre.
Jamie-Lee Abrahams, 16, also enjoys the laid-back atmosphere at the centre. She started out attending “Girls night”, an evening set aside for activities for 10- to 13-year-old girls, a few years ago. She now has fun hanging out at the centre after school “talking, playing on the computers and PS2, playing pool, listening to music, and dancing.”
But the facilities at the drop-in centre are by no means the only things on offer. Jamie-Lee has also completed the centre’s learner licence programme which provides young drivers-to-be with access to the road code and theory tests as well as some instruction. Learners can attend a one-hour-a-week course or can drop in casually for a little one on one tuition.
Other regular activities at the centre include “sports night” which happens on Fridays and is currently supervised by Shannon Mudge. Shannon is another local who grew up hanging out at the centre but now does his bit helping out by organising a range of indoor sporting activities. This includes touch rugby, softball, boxing or basketball, or whatever the interest of those who turn up between six and eight on Friday evenings.
In addition to the regular activities that the centre provides, there are also special events which Emma organises. These have included camps at Hanmer and Wainui, Blue Light discos and more recently an overnight stay at Banks Peninsula marae, Onuku.
Cody Curran memorial at
Lyttelton Skate Park.
The centre has also, sadly been a place for people to come together in grief. When seventeen year-old Cody Curran passed away in April 2008 it came as a blow to many in Lyttelton’s close-knit community and to the young people who used the centre.
He was an amazing guy," Emma says.
It’s so hard to put into words the type of guy that he actually was. Cody was special. He never picked on anyone. If someone was being hassled he’d be there to stick up for them whether he knew them or not. He was just so onto it and because he grew up in Lyttelton and had an older sister the whole community knew him. All age groups from little kids that were still in primary school right through to the elderly. Everyone who knew him knew he was there to help anyone who needed it.
When he passed away the community kind of went into shock, actually. For the young people who come to the centre we supported them by having a sleepover that night.
Some of the kids wanted to do a candlelight vigil so we ended up getting the candles and balloons and going to a car park that was behind his house, and parents came along, kids came along. It was just huge. And then we heard that some young people that were involved with Project Legit and knew Cody wanted to dedicate a wall to him somewhere.
Lyttelton Skate Park had originally been painted about eight years beforehand but was in need of a revamp so it made sense as the location for a tribute. The centre worked with Christchurch City Council and Project Legit on this community project that was finally completed in April 2009. Odering is hopeful that the mural dedicated to Curran will stay free of tagging.
This time it’s not just a painting. It’s got a special meaning.