Yesterday was National Youth Homelessness Day and to recognise the resilience of young people who are homeless, a whole mob of young people met in Civic Park in Darwin for couch racing.
The Larrakia Nation Team won! Pushing the couch they designed, the team was made up of five boys from Palmerston who beat all the other teams to win. They started off a bit slow but got into it and became unbeatable.
“Just the faces on them, the determination and the commitment and the pride. This age group is really hard to engage with and they need a really solid program, and this does that” said Kay Villaflor from Larrakia Nation who has been involved in lots of couch racing in the past.
Services coming together to support youth homelessness
The Couch Surfing for Youth Homelessness event was put on by Anglicare and Darwin City Council and aims to bring services together that support young people who find themselves homeless. There would have easily been 20 stalls throughout Civic Park with hundreds of people turning up to participate in or cheer on the racing teams.
“There are a lot of services here today that are all about supporting youth and that is what I want to try to get involved in is letting youth know what opportunities or services are available for them” said Kay.
In the past the Palmerston Family and Cultural Centre have organised the team to enter the couch surfing races, but this year was a bit different. Kay wanted more collaboration from the Palmerston community and invited Serena Dalton and Kaitlyn Pagel from Grassroots Action Plan to coordinate the project and recruit the team, Grow Well Live Well in Palmerston supplied the materials and Larrakia Nation provided the shed at the centre for painting the couch and supporting the painters.
“This year we have had more of a collaborative approach to get people in the community involved in coordinating. Palmerston is highly successful in working in collaboration and leading in so many ways and I believe this is a great example of that” said Kay.
Team took some persuading the compete
Kaitlyn who is a young Indigenous woman starting out in events and project management said the event went well, even though there were some reservations from the team at the start of the day. “It went really well. Sometimes it is hard to keep people interested for a long time. The kids can get shame and they lose interest. If there is a big crowd they haven’t seen before they get shame and they don’t want to do it. We encouraged them and encouraged them and talked them around and then they got into it”.
And got into it they did! The boy’s team (named GAP) were unbeatable and took the final prize beating the Territory Families team in the final face of the day. Congratulations!