Brighter Futures for African Youth was delivered at St Paul’s African House from 2017 – 2021. Over 220 young people were engaged. Participants identified with the following African communities; South Sudanese, Congolese, Burundian, Ugandan, Ethiopian, and Sudanese. Most of these young people are from families who are former refugees. Some of the other young who attended the program were Australian, American, Sri Lankan, and Afghani.
Brighter Futures was designed to addresses the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of youth of African heritage in Greater Shepparton. In the beginning, the program focused on basketball coaching sessions partnering with Shepparton Big V Gators. It engaged young people in positive activities, built inter-generational relationships and connected youth with the wider community. In Sept 2019, the program evolved with an additional focus on the young people themselves providing direction for the program. This lead to a significant increase in attendance and wider community engagement and a much broader range of activities being delivered including soccer, AFL, basketball, contemporary dance, breakdance, Afro dance, horseriding, and craft. Opportunities for mentoring, employment, program delivery, and sports membership sponsorship also was offered for a small number of young people. The program concluded with an Afro Dance performance of 20 young people of both African and non-African heritage at our A Taste of African Cultures 2021 event.
The program was funded by Commbank Grassroots Grant Program.