Central YMCA – ‘Get on Track’

It was December 2014 when I first said yes to an invitation to join a leadership workshop with Jane and Nicole, when the skip garden was on the old site then. I thought that their way of working was something special, it resonated with many of the things I’d been thinking and opened up conversations that felt important. We were given the opportunity to do some free-fall writing and examine understandings of leadership, invited to join an enquiry, and stand in a bigger story.

I was planning for the next cohort of young people to take part in ‘Get on Track’, our six-week programme for 16-24’s – a journey from inside out -to change their circumstances and move into employment or training. I wanted to bring the Global Generation into our journey. 

This month we brought 19 young people to the Skip Garden, the new site has the same peaceful feeling – an oasis in the chaos of huge change, the garden is under construction too, a story being written together as it gives possibilities to contribute. The first of our three sessions felt wild and right on the edge of chaos – that is where all the interesting things happen, right?

We brought the young people in and it was clear that they did not know what to expect, the beauty and strangeness of the garden was overwhelming for some. Vero was preparing lunch for us when we arrived and Jane gave a quick tour of the garden, its structures, and a whisper of its possibilities for those who were listening. The sessions were interactive we discussed values - searching for connection and symbolism, the young people had ‘permission’ to laugh and in that freedom everyone was engaged with the ideas and some deep stuff came out. 

The young people prepared food for each other, chopping and combining ingredients while discussing the philosophy of food. Some of our group were fasting and before I knew it they were arranging bouquets of wild flowers for the table that they had picked from the side of the natural pool next door. There was peace in the room when the group sat around the large make-shift dining table all eating together like a family, silence, it felt very special. 

The second of our sessions was truly fantastic, we retained the reflective quality and there was also a layer of creative energy that was a real buzz. After serving a hearty meal of lasagne and fresh salad in the poly tunnel, we got to work. Young people were planting, learning about seeds and soil, and even having a go at construction -sawing and building. Cookies were being made, and stories were told in the green house. Through the active, creative energy there were moments of flow, in which time expands and life becomes more than it was. I saw the young people so deeply engaged in what they were doing.

“I found it amazing that they make things out of what’s available, reusing materials - its up-cycling” 

In the third session Jane led us on a walk, both physical and temporal. We were invited to consider the cosmic connections and the concrete opportunities. We saw an opportunity to contribute to a Kings Cross that is different- creative, connected and alive. That is what Global generations are moving towards and I know that many of our young people have been inspired by our time with them. There is a real commitment from the businesses here to meaningfully connect also, and we were warmly welcomed.  

I hope this isn’t the last time we all work together. Thank you, from all of us!

I am so surprised that this place is here, it’s really amazing that there is somewhere so calm right in Kings cross
— Maria

Writes Laura Walsh (YMCA Active Youth Programme Manager)