WHEN Bendigo youth team YoBendigo started three years ago, no one knew how popular it would become.
This week is the biggest week on the team’s calender as Youth Week (which kicked off on Friday) takes over the city.
YoBendigo came from the idea in 2008 that all news and perception of youth was negative.
The youth of Bendigo wanted to show they were creative, talented and volunteering people.
“They wanted a portal and website to celebrate what they were doing and show what they could do,” youth development cordinator Kylie Emonson said.
“Now it’s morphed into a Facebook page that has swept ahead and seen us become one of the leading local govenment youth teams.”
Carolynn Roberts, 19, has been with the team since it’s inception.
With a passion for writing, she had been working on Lead On and The Loop in the Bendigo Advertiser but saw a chance to develop her skills further.
“One of my mum’s friends said there’s a new youth thing happening and I looked it up for myself and thought that’s exactly where I want to be,” she said.
“It’s a place where young people have their work published and find out about local events that are happening.
“I get the opportunity to have my work published and go and write pieces and taking photos at local gigs.”
At high school Carolynn excelled at English literature and a teacher encouraged her to develop her skills further.
She now studies IT at La Trobe University in Bendigo and, with an interest at journalism, has an ambition to run her own publication.
“One of the biggest things I have done (with YoBendigo) is helping in getting it out there” she said.
“I was in the Bendigo Magazine recently for YoBendigo and I can’t believe I did that or that I get events up and running and have so many people saying ‘we want to come to that’.”
For 16-year-old Joshua Murdoch, a passion for film and photography began when he was in the news van for the Castlemaine bomber story last year.
“That’s where the interest came from,” he said. “I used to want to be in front of the camera but now I want to get behind it. I saw YoBendigo through my Facebook feed and thought I’d put myself forward.”
Josh’s other passion is raising awareness about cyber-bullying.
“I wanted to work with youth to bring knowledge to the bullying side of things and bring my film and photography to YoBendigo and to do a digital aspect of it,” he said.
“We have been working on a few projects for Yo and going to events but I really want to put myself out there and tell people about it.”
Josh is also keen to show communities the positive affect Bendigo’s youth have on the city rather than the negative perceptions that people often see.
“People might think youth are disruptive, for the one per cent of people who do the wrong thing, but what about the other 99 percent,” he said.
“There’s a lot more behind the bad things that you see and Yo acknowledges the good parts of youth people dont see.”
Carolynn said there were a lot of young people who want to move forward and be the next big thing.
“We have good ideas but not much of a chance to voice them,” she said.
“There is a group of people saying ‘look what the youth has done wrong’, but not look at what we have done right.”
Carolynn and Josh are hoping to showcase Bendigo’s youth in a good light during Youth Week, which features photography competitions, film workshops, music showcases and a zombie shuffle.
Carolynn and the YoBendigo team began workshopping ideas for Youth Week at the start of the year.
“It’s a matter of saying ‘this is what we would like to see’ and asking other people what they want,” she said. “A group students wanted to do a zombie shuffle and we looked at what was successful in the past and what other people have done.
“Youth Week has grown a lot. It used to be pretty much nothing and there is so much on now.”
St Luke’s Anglicare helped kick of the Youth Week celebrations last night with a CD launch.
The album, titled Undaground 3, is a compilation CD put together through the youth music program at St Luke’s.
It sees young people involved with St Luke’s get into the studio to create and produce their own music.
“This is the third Undaground song compilation we have put together,” program facilitator Wayne Glenn said.
“Technically speaking it wasn’t made specifically for youth week but we were fortunate enough to coincide with it and add more punch to the CD launch.
“It was a great opportunity to be a part of a really important part of the youth calender.”
Wayne has been with St Luke’s for 10 years and said the kids involved with the albums got a real buzz from hearing their own stories back.
“Everyone has got a story. Your story is just as valid as someone you hear on the radio,” he said.
“This is us waving our flag for youth week. There is so much going on and it’s great to see so many different organisations and community groups contributing to youth week.
“We thought (the album launch) was a good way to kick off youth week. The council supported us with funding for the launch. They are the driving force behind Youth Week.
“People love live music, so a gig on top of youth central sounded like a good idea.”
Five people who made songs for Undaground 3 performed at the launch last night led by first-time performer Lauren Trull and seasoned performer DSP.
“Lauren was part of the program, has a passion for singing and had experiences to put into the song, which is on the CD,” Wayne said.
“DSP is a fantastic performer.”
The CD was helped along by a mix of young people and mentors who regularly use the studio and its equipment.
Wayne said local performers and some ex-students helped show younger guys that there was a professional pathway in music.
“They were quite inspired when the saw these other guys in a recording booth being so professional, laying down a vocal and smashing it,” he said.
“We are funded to work with young people specifically who, for whatever reason, are struggling to access mainstream education.
“The music tends to be fairly hip-hop because that’s what people have wanted to do.
“In three-years time there might be a few dubstep songs on there because that’s what the students are interested in.
“There is nothing supernatural about popular musicians. They just have luck, self-belief and people behind them.
“If we can get some of those elements in there, we can achieve some great things.”