'One-stop' centre meeting big challenge
DURING more than 12 years at the Ipswich Police Citizens Youth Club, Sergeant Neale Porter has seen many changes.
However, the biggest is the growth in membership numbers which have doubled over the past decade.
As branch manager of an important Ipswich sport and youth development facility, Porter is proud of what he, his dedicated staff and many community volunteers have achieved.
"The Ipswich PCYC is truly a one-stop shop for family-friendly activities that are affordable and enjoyable,'' Sgt Porter said.
"Anybody is welcome at the Ipswich PCYC.
"We are a piece of community infrastructure and we are committed to Ipswich.''
That role includes many programs that assist indigenous people, disadvantaged kids, the disabled and young families.
Awards for community partnerships, child protection, links with schools, welfare initiatives and road safety campaigns this year highlight the broad focus of the PCYC network based at Eastern Heights.
Developing life skills, bolstering confidence and providing training and physical recreation are key parts of the PCYC's core focus.
However, it's the diversity of sport and recreational activities that underpin the club's extra work, providing a foundation to help the community in many ways.
More than 50 sport and recreation activities are offered on a regular base, supported by a membership base of 3700.
That includes everything from gymnastics, squash and trampo- lining to martial arts, dance, CrossFit and yoga programs.
The gymnastics program grew to 1000 members this year, with participants as young as six months through to adults involved in 55 classes a week.
"That's the need for parents to be able to access developmental sporting activities for their kids,'' Sgt Porter said, "and gymnastics is certainly one of the very best in terms of developing their motor skills and social abilities.''
The multi-use Ipswich facility is venue for a national squash round next month.
Professional coaches will offer free coaching sessions for Ipswich players before the tournament.
Overall, the not-for-profit club has attracted a staggering 167,000 attendances over the past year, from youngsters and their parents to fitness fanatics.
"It's the sheer diversity of the club,'' Sgt Porter said.
"The club is able to be flexible and offer whatever is needed by the Ipswich community.''
However, meeting an ever-increasing demand creates a major PCYC challenge, especially with Ipswich's growing population.
"Our biggest issue I suppose is how we cope with future growth, and how we provide for a facility that's going to be able to take the demand,'' Sgt Porter said.
"It's just the sheer growth in the number and type of activities, and the number of people using the club.
"We specifically work towards providing activities in a range that a whole family can attend on a single afternoon but do different things.''
Sgt Porter said every child deserved the chance to grow up with healthy sport and recreation activity in their lives.
"It helps strengthen the family unit,'' he said.
"For some people, unfortunately, it's the only safe place that they can go to.
"Our major focus is to make sure that any child, regardless of their circumstances, is able to access these sports at a reasonable cost and get the chance to participate.
"It comes back to that healthy and active lifestyle, which is such an important part of their development.''
With no new PCYC facilities planned in the near future, how to meet the demand is something Sgt Porter and his team will have to grapple with.
However, chatting to those in the frontline of co-ordinating PCYC activities, it's clear the club is in good hands, being in a central location close to Ipswich's Limestone Park.
"It's certainly a great place, being part of that sporting hub,'' Sgt Porter said.
"The club is operating at or above capacity. There's no doubt about that.''
Sgt Porter was particularly pleased with the achievements of a group of Ipswich State High School indigenous students who completed a bronze award for volunteering and other activities.
Staff efforts with the Breaking The Cycle program and national road safety initiatives were also commended.
"The most satisfying part is to when we get the opportunities to see the staff and volunteers recognised for the quality of what they provide and how they've delivered to the Ipswich community over the last year,'' Sgt Porter said.
He said more welfare and youth development programs would be rolled out as the PCYC looks to continue its community focus in the new year.
"That's the uniqueness of PCYC,'' Sgt Porter said. "It doesn't begin and end with the sport.
"There's a lot more back-up and a lot more support there.''
The Ipswich Police Citizens Youth Club was opened on November 13, 1965.
This is how the PCYC looks at the end of 2014.
- Attendances (past 12 months): 167,000 visitors.
- Activities/programs: More than 50.
- Members: 3700.
- Sports and recreation activities: Squash, trampolining, martial arts, gymnastics, CrossFit, music and dance. Gymnasium for multi-use.
- Welfare focus: Community Learning Program, OzTag, Department of Education and schools, Breaking the Cycle, CPR, Indigenous Games and dance, films, Bell Street, road safety and employment workshops.
- Other initiatives and awards: National Road Safety, Ipswich Child Protection, Qld Police Officer of the Year (Neale Porter), The Bridge Award, CATS end of year performance, NAIDOC, Day for Daniel (Morcombe), Queensland Week, Fatality Free Friday, QPCYWA Community Partnership, Time 4 Kids, Active Breaks, Ipswich Festival, Australian Sports Commission Expo.