Youthfest Debrief: A Chat with Rochelle Nixon
Pictured: Rochelle Nixon with her parents (left) and partner (right) at a recent youth work awards night, for which she was a nominee.
No "Friday the 13th" superstition stood in the way of a determined band of youth workers and young people from NRGY at the North Richmond Community Centre recently as they successfully opened and closed another stellar Youthfest.
I had a nice chat with Rochelle Nixon after the event. I was interested to know more about exactly why events such as Youthfest are important, and what drives one of our local passionate youth workers to achieve so much alongside our local young people. Rochelle has been the Youth Development Worker at North Richmond Community Centre / NRGY for the last five and a half years and is also the co-ordinator of the YouthFest events.
What’s your personal story? Why do you do this work?
I have lived most of my life in the Hawkesbury area and have a real passion to support and love the community around me. I want to be the change that I want to see in the world, and I want that change to be in the Hawkesbury, helping and supporting young people and families.
What’s your favourite part of your job?
I have a few favourites about the job; one highlight would definitely be YouthFest every year. Another favourite part of the job would be when you support someone though hard times, and you see them come out of it on the other side and thrive. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful, strong people in the time I have worked in this field. I love what young people can offer the world, too. They have so much passion, love and strength.
What kind of team is behind NRGY? What’s the aim of the group?
NRGY (North Richmond Generation Youth) is a part of North Richmond Community Centre. It is for young people across the Hawkesbury, it is a place that young people can be supported and belong. Young people can come to NRGY and join in on activities, after school programs, and learn music and drama. I would not be able to pull off the YouthFest events without the team behind NRGY. I have great co-workers that are just incredible. We also have the Youth Action Team (YAT) who meet weekly. They are a group of highly-motivated young people who want to support and fundraise for local charities and run events for local people in the Hawkesbury. The young people at YAT are so passionate about supporting YouthFest. They are the ones that give me the entertainment ideas, support in the lead up to the event and on the day of the event, they are all have different roles and give up their time to make YouthFest great. We also have amazing support from our Local Council, who also have helped immensely over the time. I have also had the support of many Youth Services that meet once a month for the Hawkesbury Youth Interagency meeting. All together we have 30 different services who joined YouthFest 18.
How long has Youthfest been in the making? This is now the fourth year running. YouthFest is a part of National Youth Week. Every year thousands of young people are celebrating across NSW and Australia. In 2016, YouthFest was one of five finalists for the most innovative Youthweek program in NSW, and there were over two thousand Youth week programs that year in NSW!
Who is it for?
The aim of the event is for young people aged between 12 and 24, but everyone is welcome! It is a family friendly event and we have activities for kids also.
How important is it to have local events for youth and kids?
I believe it is really important. The Hawkesbury is an isolated place when it comes to young people being able to access services. This event allows young people to access services and learn how they might access them if they need, but also to have fun while doing so. Every service attending has an activity that the young people can join in on.
How do you feel about how YouthFest 18 went?
YouthFest 18 was incredible, with such a wonderful vibe to the event. There were around 700 to 800 families and young people thoughout the Youthfest night. Our best and biggest one yet! This was the first year we had live music, and now this will be the first of many more to come. The live music added a community warmth to Youthfest. The young people that performed were so talented, this was a great way to celebrate young people of the Hawkesbury. I couldn’t be more thankful to all our volunteers and staff that attended and made the day great. A huge thanks to the 30 services that gave their time up for a great night for young people. A big thank you to our staff at North Richmond Community Centre and Youth Action Team, for all their hard work and putting extra time aside for the event.