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Friday, May 13, 2011

Battle with boredom gets a boost

Battle with boredom gets a boost

Last updated 05:00 14/05/2011
Activity programmes are being created for bored Christchurch secondary school pupils finishing classes early because of site-sharing.

Sport Canterbury has applied for $500,000 from the Government's Christchurch Earthquake Appeal to run activity hubs around the city.

Initially, the hubs will be at sites in Papanui, Upper Riccarton, Linwood, Burnside and Cashmere, from 1pm to 3pm four days a week.

Sport Canterbury young persons manager Aaron Webb said yesterday that while the dollar figure had not been confirmed, the hubs had been given the go-ahead and all would be operational by Monday, May 23.

"The hubs are purely to address the social issues for students not having something to do from 1pm onwards."

The hubs would be for all ages and would not only provide sporting activities but also other passive recreational activities, Webb said.

Police, schools and parents had expressed concern about the many year 9 and 10 pupils flooding the streets after schools forced to site-share because of the earthquake finished at 12.35pm.

Constable Mike Withers said since students had been finishing early young people were flocking to Jellie Park after noon, and there had been an increase in assaults and disorderly behaviour.

"I guess whenever you have got a large group of kids, there's the potential for assaults and fights to happen," he said. "On [Wednesday], I was there and there was probably about 50 kids playing basketball – quite amicably – but whether that's because I was there watching them ... there were two or three groups wanting to use the basketball hoop, and were spilling out."

Many of those causing problems were "hangers-on", Withers said.

Burnside High School second principal Sandra Sidaway said about 1000 year 9 and 10 Burnside High School pupils were released when Avonside Girls' High School moved in for afternoon classes under the site-sharing arrangement.

The school and parents had been concerned about pupils who were "barely 13" leaving the school.

"Parents are finding it very hard to provide supervision and responsible parents don't want students hanging out at the mall or getting into less desirable activities such as shoplifting," she said.

The school provided homework supervision with about 40 pupils who had no care arrangements using the service.

"[The juniors] are the ones we are more concerned about.

"They are the ones most at risk in terms of having free time every afternoon."

Papanui High School principal Bronwyn Welsh said the school, which was sharing with Shirley Boys' High School, was already running a study centre at the rugby league club and activities for the junior students at the youth centre.

The school had received support from its local Rotary group, she said.

"The solution to our problems have been school-initiated and the Ministry of Education has come in and given resource support and that's been great.

"We have come up with a homegrown solution for a homegrown problem."

There had been no reports of disorderly behaviour by students leaving school early, she said.

Cashmere High School principal Mark Wilson said his school, which was sharing with Linwood College, was also running homework centres and sports and activities for their junior pupils – but was still waiting on promised funding from the Government.

"The school has worked really hard with the local community to find local solutions – in particular the Spreydon Baptist Church.

"We have support from their youth workers."

Wilson said he was unsure who the hubs would target but he hoped there had been some research done to ensure there would be some demand and that the money would not be wasted.

- The Press

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