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At-risk kids in West Cairns reap the benefits of new program

An 8-week trial program that increased the availability and choice of activities for at-risk children aged 8–12 years old has been extended due to its success.

The Space & Place Activities for Youth in Cairns (SPAYC) was developed by Cairns Safer Streets, a multi-agency team that identified a need for young people to engage in structured activities to reduce youth offending and increase personal safety.

A sign sits next to a tree that reads ‘SPACE & PLACE Activities for Youth in Cairns #SPAYC’

Over the initial 8-week program, an average of 60 young people took part each week in 4 activities around West Cairns, with children playing street soccer, sporting games and participating in the Deadly Runners group.

The team saw great retention rates, with a big proportion of participants attending most sessions.

SPAYC had such a positive impact that the program was extended until the end of 2018, and now Cairns Safer Streets has secured funding for another 3 years.

: Some young people run around outside, playing soccer as part of the SPAYC program

While the project is aimed at children aged 8 to 12, senior program officer Kylie said some of the most positive stories included older teens who had joined the activities.

“There was one 16-year-old who was encouraged by his dad to attend the Deadly Runners sessions,” Kylie said.

“When he first started, he was shy and reluctant to get involved, but by the end he had attended all 8 sessions and was fitter and healthier, walking to and from TAFE.

“He was so excited to be presented with a Deadly Runners shirt, and now he joins in on the weekly sessions on the Esplanade.”

Kylie says the team is looking forward to working with Cairns community groups over the next 3 years, and is excited to see the positive impact it will have on the city.