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• Cr Mark Edwards (left) and the island youth who competed in the Running Wild Amazing Island Race. The presentations were held at Karragarra Beach!

A permanent 'youth program' on the Bay Islands is the goal of Running Wild Youth Conservation Culture Inc organiser, Julie 'Chook' Larson.

Julie recently conducted a hugely successful holiday program on the islands which offered a 'pointer' to future growth and success.

"The holiday program was a big success.

"It proved beyond doubt that our island youth need and deserve more attention," she told The Friendly Bay Islander.

The recent holiday program involved more than a week of specialised activities for island youth, organised by Chook and her team of Diploma of Youth Work student volunteers.

She was also aided by a $10,000 grant from Redland City Council to implement the holiday schools program for teens from 13 to 18 years.

The big program of holiday activities attracted on average 16 island youths per event.

"It was fantastic. They got more involved and excited as the program developed, culminating in the The Amazing Island Race, which was postponed due to heavy rain and was held on Sunday, January 25," Chook Larson said.

All the island students involved rated the holiday program a 'wonderful success'.

One competitor told The Friendly Bay Islander: "We are bored. There is not enough things to do on the islands," she said.

Parents were delighted with the program, many offering support and 'thanks' to Chook and her team.

Chook Larson says island children lack in any planned activities and guidance.

"There is probably a need here more than any other community.

"There are many disenfranchised teens who need help here."

She called on the State Government and others to provide funding to 'make it happen'.

As an island resident, Chook Larson sees the best and worst of teen inactivity on our islands.

"It is simple, really. They need to be kept occupied and busy.

"Lax time leads to trouble in various forms," she said.

With the help of funding, Chook believes an exciting program and future for island teens is possible.

"We can get them involved in activities such as sailing and various levels of learning and sport.

"There are some very talented people of this island who are prepared to offer their services and support.

"We can take them to exciting places such as Extreme Trampolining and other similar activity-related events," she said.

Chook says Running Wild has received considerable community support already.

"The council has been great, business has been helpful, but more needs to be done.

"What is required is a full time youth worker stationed on the islands," she said.

She admits there are now some great island amenities that can be utilised, including the Macleay Island Skate Park, sailing via the Tingira Boat Club and the Sandy Beach Kayak and Sailing Club, the tennis courts and sporting facilities on Russell Island, and Jackson Oval.

There is also The Hut on Russell Island and the Community Centre on Macleay and the Russell Recreation Centre also offer good amenities for youth activity.

Cr Mark Edwards has offered to assist Running Wild in approaches to council and the State Government funding to supply a permanent Youth Worker for the islands.

"This is about being positive and giving our island youth new directions," he said.

And so say all of us!



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