When Cody turned up to Streetgym that first day, he never expected he’d enter a world where he would be accepted for who he was by people who’d soon become his friends.
Basketball had always been Cody’s thing. Point Guard position was his happy place and he’d been playing with teams in competitions around the central coast for years. One day, his best friend at school told him about the Y’s program and soon, he was a regular.
“I was about 16 when my friend told me about Streetgym because he knew I liked the sport side of things,” Cody said. “It was just across from school, so I went to check it out. As soon as I got there, I thought that the people were really nice.”
“Because it was a mixed age group, I was worried about fitting in at first. But it didn’t take long to adjust. They all accepted me for who I was, and I went there every Thursday until the pandemic,” Cody said.
Streetgym is a free program designed to give young people aged 12 to 18 years the chance to be active, have a free feed, and enjoy hanging out with mates. It helps give young people a sense of belonging and a chance for them to work on other aspects of their lives. We’ve just hit 5,000 participations on the program, with more than 600 young people attending since it started running in October 2019.
“Basically, Streetgym is a group of youth kids and mentors who go out and play sports and we just talk about stuff that’s going on. I’d hang around with Streetgym friends a lot in my spare time. We’d just watch sunsets, take photos and talk about life,” he said.
As people transition into adulthood, those in the group can begin to see themselves in a different light.
“When a mate told me he was getting a job and wouldn’t be around as much, I realised I’d be the only 18-year-old there. It made me feel like I had a new responsibility to help the younger ones. It was really great. I see myself as a mentor in some program working with youth in the future. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in the last few years from my own mentors – it would be good to give something back,” Cody said.
Cody is headed in the right direction. He recounts how he felt in April when he was invited to be part of the crew to attend the Central Coast Council Youth Week Awards which Streetgym had been nominated for in the volunteer category.
“I didn’t think much of it in a way, but I did feel like I wanted to go and that it would be a good experience for me. We went and we ended up getting two awards. I felt proud of the group and to be part of it.”
His Mum was proud too, posting on social media: ‘Well deserved. I want to thank Streetgym for everything you do for our youth. And all you have done for Cody. Keep up the great work you do in our community.’
For more than two years, Cody was part of Streetgym, volunteering on both the Y NSW Youth Careers Expo and Council’s Colour The Coast projects, and it helped him become more confident in himself and what he could achieve. “I miss it now that I’m working. But I made many friends, and we still stay in contact. I had a place there. It helped me and gave me a chance to help others too.”
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