Sunshine Coast Daily

Cool heads across border

SKATEBOARD competitions, concerts, movie nights and art projects will soon be offered to wayward teens in a bid to keep them off Coolangatta's streets at night.

The move comes as part of the Cool Heads project, a youth outreach service aiming to prevent teenagers becoming the victims or perpetrators of crime.

Cool Heads is endorsed by Tweed Shire and Gold Coast City councils and is run by St Joseph's Youth Service.

It is supported by police and the Tweed Coolangatta Community Safety Action Committee

Gerina Appo, co-ordinator of St Joseph's Youth Service said that from October, events and activities will be running in Coolangatta every second Friday night.

She said next month workers would begin consulting with young people about what sort of activities they want for the area.

It could be anything from concerts and art workshops to movie nights, skateboarding and basketball competitions, she said.

“It has to be driven by what the young people want, because we want to get them there,” Ms Appo said.

She said there were a number of issues with teenagers congregating in the streets on Friday and Saturday nights that include underage drinking and fighting.

“Just hanging around, causing problems, causing fights, doing what kids do. It's boredom,” she said.

“Friday night seems to be the night they all want to go out.”

Head of Coolangatta Police, Senior Sergeant Mark Johnston said police supported the Cool Heads Activity Project.

“Cool Heads originated out of a community business partnership between Queensland and NSW focusing on juveniles in the area,” Snr Sgt Johnston said.

“It's a formation of government departments, semi-government departments and police coming together and focusing on youth problems.

“Anything that can assist the youth of today is needed ... I think it will make some kind of difference.”

Dale Jackson, senior community crime prevention officer for the South Eastern Region, said adults would also benefit from the project, which would boost commu- nity safety.

“The young people need to be engaged, they need to be involved... most importantly to distract them from drugs, alcohol and antisocial behaviour.”

Cool Heads has been success- fully operating on the Tweed for the past 18 months.

Trained volunteers drive a bus from Tweed Heads to Pottsville on Friday and Saturday nights, offering young people first aid, referrals to youth services, or just someone to talk to.

Ms Appo said it was exciting to see the service expanding into Coolangatta.

“Since 2004 when we initially tried to set it up, we always intended for it to run on both sides of the border,” she said.

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