Youth centres: meeting points, interaction and modern youth services
In first place, we have to take into account the public to whom they are intended. The fact of containing the word “youth” implies that these centres are only destined to users over 14 and less than 35 years old. It is true that these age limits are changeable depending on the area or other criteria and that even the participation of children are allowed at these centres at some specific activities.
The second feature in these centres is the concentration of actions of all kinds aimed at young people. These activities are usually organized and managed by public entities, sometimes in collaboration with private organizations. Of course that there are private management centres all over the country, but generally, the meaning of “youth centre” is associated with public governance.
Youth centres are meeting points, but also good channels to start up youth actions, to know the needs, the problems and the desires of the leading actors, the group of young people. In short, youth centres are the loudspeakers with which to convey the voice of young people to the rest of society.
One example is the Youth Centre of Badajoz, which opened its doors in May this year and brings together in one space all kinds of services. It depends on the Institute of Youth in Extremadura, and its philosophy evolves from this idea: Young people of 15 years old do not look for the same things that young people of 30 years old at a young centre. Therefore, the design and programming of these facilities have evolved to result in this type of infrastructure, in which classrooms, exhibition areas and entrepreneurship and research areas work at the same time than other areas like recording and rehearsal rooms, dance halls or the Skate Park. The interrelationship among young people of different ages is beneficial and provides of a richer environment to these centres.
The Youth Centre of Badajoz is not the first facility for young people that is has been opened in this region. Extremadura has a consolidated network of the so-called Youth Spaces for Creation and Youth Factories, each of them have different usage criteria.
The ECJ (Espacios para la Creación Joven or Youth Spaces for Creation), are born as places to encourage the creative, innovative, entrepreneurial and artistic thinking of young people. Currently there are 24 Youth Spaces operating in the region. Some of them are located in remodelled unique buildings and others have given a new use to infrastructures that were closed for lack of use. These centres are always open to the proposals from their own users; therefore their agenda are built up daily and updated with the new needs of the youth.
The centres are characterized for their interaction with the towns in which they are located. To allow its use, not only by the young people of the town, enriches these centres. The implementation of activities coming from the schools, the town councils, the Associations of parents and from all kinds of associations, ensures their success.
Youth Factories - although taking always into account the general premise of encouraging creativity and entrepreneurship, they focus on activities of leisure and free time, and physical activity has a greater weight in its programming. There are two Factories currently operating in Extremadura.
And from the union of these two criteria emerges the Youth Centre as the one opened in Badajoz, to progress in modern youth services from a single space that gives the opportunity to enjoy the different services that interest to every age and not duplicating the infrastructure.
Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier, Instituto de la Juventud de Extremadura