PCYC: What it means for Clarence Valley
BOXING and gymnastics classes will be among the range of activities taking place when PCYC Grafton opens its doors today.
The $6.5 million project on the site of the former Grafton Sports Centre has been promoted as a major asset for the Clarence Valley community.
Those privileged to have a sneak preview of the facility have been impressed.
"You won't believe you're in Grafton," former Grafton Vikings veteran basketball player Bryan Robins said.
"It's what you'd expect to see in Wagga or Dubbo or Tamworth, a big regional centre."
But exactly what services are provided by the centre and who is set to benefit?
EXPLAINED: Police Citizens Youth Clubs
Grafton is the 65th PCYC club in the state and largest outside the Sydney metropolitan area.
PCYC NSW is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1937 delivering a broad range of youth and community activities and support.
Clubs focus on empowering young people to be the best they can be through personal development programs in partnership with NSW Police.
"We have a police presence in our club at least four days a week," PCYC Grafton manager Tyson Donohoe said. "That alone is a good deterrent for anyone who shouldn't be around kids in general.
"They're not here to be security guards, they're here to engage."
It's part of the RISEUP strategy which incorporates job ready programs, mentoring and vocational training for at risk youth aged between 15 and 18 to build their engagement with education, employment opportunities and the community.
A safe space for young people
For a $10 annual membership fee, children can be in the centre at any time during its opening hours between 6am and 9pm.
"Our main goal is to produce that safe environment families can trust and know that when their kids are here they are safe," Mr Donohoe said.
"Mum and dad know if they're in PCYC at Grafton they're not far from police presence, inside a facility that protects kids."
The drop-in space includes study desks, computer stations, and a gaming station.
"This area is purely for kids who might be at a loss for somewhere to go outside school hours," Mr Donohoe said.
"Parents know they're not wandering the street, not getting in trouble, and in a safe environment."
Facility for the whole sporting community
Grafton Basketball Association Inc and North Coast Futsal are among the sports set to resume activities on the revamped basketball courts, while the centre also includes a purpose-built gymnastics floor, a general purpose gym and a high performance gym which includes boxing.
While the primary purpose of PCYC clubs is to provide a safe space for youth to participate in healthy activities, Mr Donohoe insists it is available for the whole community to benefit.
"We're partnering up with everyone," he said. "We're making this as inclusive as possible for everyone.
"This isn't my club, this is the Clarence Valley's PCYC. I'm just here to make sure we get the best we can.
"There's no reason anymore for anyone to say there's not a good gym in Grafton, there's no sports courts, there's no gymnastics. We are literally the biggest facility in the Clarence Valley."
Even the changerooms are a step up for the Clarence Valley.
"The mirrored change rooms have five toilets, four basins, a seated changeroom area and three showers," Mr Donohoe said.
"These are facilities that haven't existed in the Clarence Valley. I've played in many a facility up and down the east coast, and only in the metros have I seen facilities like this."
Annual PCYC Grafton membership is $25 for Seniors and $10 for Juniors. Access to the gym is $5 for the first month and then $9.95 per week, while the high performance and fitness package is $17.95 per week. You can find more details here.
Raising the high performance training bar
The new high performance gym located on the mezzanine level above the basketball courts and a hi-tech classroom have been designed to cater for elite level athletes.
"Now we can facilitate training programs for an elite level and stop sending our kids four or five hours up or down the road to get it," Mr Donohoe said.
"If you can find me a better venue in Northern NSW, by all means you train there. But if you can't and you want the best, then you need to come here. We are a high performance centre.
"We can bring people out of that training environment, bring them into our learning centre and run high performance training sessions.
"What you see at NRL level and equivalent in every major sport in Australia, we can facilitate here."
Benefit to the greater community
It's not just sporting groups that can benefit from PCYC Grafton. The learning centre is equipped to host any program that requires a classroom setup, and will, for example, facilitate the Safer Drivers Course and Traffic Offenders Intervention Program for Transport for NSW.
"This area was specifically designed with a classroom setup. The flow-on effect is we have an IT specialised conference room as well," Mr Donohoe said.
"It has natural lighting and ventilation and is an aesthetically pleasing area that you can sit in and feel comfortable.
"This room has already attracted 12 bookings."
Another multi-function room has already attracted interest from Youth Justice, physiotherapists and a masseuse, and Mr Donohoe is keen to facilitate NDIS services by fitting it out as a sensory room.
The centre's uses are limited only by the imaginations of the Clarence Valley people and ensuring their ideas are "sustainable, viable products".
"There are no barriers here, only what's up here," Mr Donohoe says as he points to his skull.
"If you think of it and I can make it viable, I'll run it. That's what we're here for.
"The only thing that holds back anything in this facility is we are a not-for-profit. We're not government funded.
"I have to make everything a sustainable, viable product. That's been the tricky part, but it's been a good challenge.
"So everything that's happened here, from the opening hours, the pricing, every room and every bit of equipment, I've had to sit down and break it down, to make it a viable product and then deliver it at an affordable price."