At the Y, we believe everyone should have access to programs that enrich their lives and help them become healthier, happier and more connected. One way we do this is through YMCA Open Doors, an initiative that provides subsidised access to YMCA programs and services to those in the community who wouldn’t normally be able to access them.
Nearly 30% of the City of Maribyrnong’s population is under the age of 25*. With such a high proportion of young people, the community needs to protect, stimulate and nurture them to reach their full potential. RecWest Braybrook’s Big Bang program aims to do just that by providing young people with the skills and resources they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Run in partnership with the City of Maribyrnong and Maribyrnong Youth Services, the Big Bang program removes the barriers that prevent young people from participating in sport and accessing healthy food. Primarily targeted at vulnerable youth, the Big Bang program started in 2013 as a homework program where school-aged children would get homework support for an hour and participate in sporting activities for two hours afterwards. Over the years, the program has transitioned into a more robust sports program with no mandatory homework time – which the kids aren’t complaining about.
Ashley Cameron, Stadium Programs Coordinator at RecWest Braybrook, and Dylan Hanane, Youth Outreach Coordinator for Maribyrnong City Council, believe Big Bang makes a huge difference in the lives of the community and gives young people a safe space to grow and connect with their peers.
Ashley said, “This program provides young people with a sense of community and is a safe space where they can be physically active and forge lasting relationships.”
Big Bang runs from 3:30-6pm every Friday during the school term with around 50 participants aged 12-25 attending each week. RecWest staff coordinate the sessions, which include sports such as basketball, soccer, futsal, volleyball and dancing, but the coaches are usually volunteers (and many are previous Big Bang participants).
“Often young people who were in the program will come back and volunteer years later. Besides helping us out, it’s also great for the kids as they have positive role models from similar backgrounds to look up to,” said Ashley.
The training during the school term culminates in a sports tournament held during the school holidays. These tournaments are big events in the community with families, friends and community members coming to watch.
The City of Maribyrnong pogram also provides participants with a healthy meal at the end of every session to support those who may not have access to regular, healthy and balanced meals at home. This initiative continued throughout the pandemic where Council transitioned to pre-packaged meals to keep supporting the community.
“I look forward to Big Bang every week because I get to see all my friends and play the sports I love. My favourite part of the year is during the holidays when my whole family gets to come and see my team in the tournament. It feels like a legit sports event with everyone cheering and going for their teams and it makes me train hard during the school term,” said a Big Bang program participant.
RecWest and YMCA Open Doors have supported and partially funded Big Bang since its inception in 2013, making it one of YMCA Open Doors’ longest running programs. We believe this program makes a world of difference in lives of young people, giving them an opportunity to get active and connect with their community without any added pressures. To continue running this program and others like it in the future, we need your support.
Donate to YMCA Open Doors today and help us offer more programs and services to community groups who need it. As little as $42 can cover the hire of one court for the Big Bang program. If you would like to donate to this program specifically, please select ‘RecWest Braybrook’ when filling out the donation form.
*As outlined in the City of Maribyrnong’s “Strategy for Children, Young People and their Families 2030”.