A new program run by the Ted Noffs Foundation has opened its doors to support young people.
The Penrith Street University is a free service for 12 to 25-year-olds providing a safe space and activities.
Co-founder of the Street Universities, Naomi Noffs, who opened the first centre in Liverpool in 2008, said the program focuses on young people who are dealing with drug, crime and mental health-related issues.
“The program includes recreational activities and workshops, such as music making, dance and art, as well as workshops to enhance skills and create pathways to employment,” she said.
“However, this isn’t like a traditional youth centre – the Street Universities have been proven not only to reduce problems like drug use in a young person’s life, they have reduced crime across whole communities.”
Ms Noffs said the new centre is the eighth in the country.
“It has been made possible by funding from the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network and is currently being completed to include a recording studio, multimedia lab, dance room and other open spaces for young people,” she said.
“We see thousands of young people every year across all of our sites and they achieve significant reductions in drug use by up to 75 per cent, arrests drop by over 50 per cent and mental wellbeing increases after using the service.”
Excited to welcome young people from Penrith to the campus, Ms Noffs said they are thankful for all the support for the program.
“We are grateful to the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network and the Federal Government as these are essential services that people otherwise would be reluctant to seek out,” Ms Noffs said.
“It is about reconnecting young people with their communities and diverting them away from criminal activity, so I can’t wait for everyone to enjoy.”
The campus is located at Shop 2, 114-116 Henry St, Penrith.
A graduate of Western Sydney University, Emily covers community news and entertainment for the Western Weekender.