15 November 2023

Kai Sakakibara's moving story inspires Shellharbour students at youth summit

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Young people who attended the Shellharbour Youth Summit.

Some of the students attending the Shellharbour Youth Summit. Photo: Shellharbour City Council.

A former Southlake BMX Club champion inspired a group of young people to “aim high and overcome adversity” at the recent Shellharbour Youth Services Youth Summit.

More than 40 students from Amity College, Warilla High School, Calderwood Christian School, Oak Flats High School, Lake Illawarra High School and St Joseph’s Catholic High School attended the summit at Shellharbour Civic Centre.

Hosted by Shellharbour City Council’s Youth Services team, the summit focused on celebrating inspirational young people and fostering leadership development.

The line-up of guest speakers included champion former Southlake BMX rider Kai Sakakibara, who suffered a traumatic brain injury when he crashed while attempting to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

He shared his inspiring story of overcoming adversity with summit participants, who were moved by his inspirational story.

Shellharbour Mayor Chris Homer joined the summit participants for breakfast before the event.

He said the summit was an important way in which council engaged with the city’s young people.

“There are more than 12,500 people aged between 12 and 24 living in Shellharbour City, representing 16.4% of the total population, which is higher than the NSW average,” he said.

“Our council has long been committed to ensuring that our city’s young people aged 12-24 are supported.

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“This summit is the perfect example of the wonderful job council does in facilitating opportunities for young people to connect and share their opinions and aspirations for the future.”

Shellharbour’s Youth Services team provides a range of programs including school holiday activities and programs, outreach in the afternoons, collaborative programs in schools and community partnerships.

It operates the Blackbutt Youth Centre, on the corner of Minga and Cynet Avenue, which is open Mondays and Wednesday for youth drop-in from 2 pm to 5 pm.

The space offers young people the opportunity to complete homework, access free printing, grab a snack, play some pool, shoot some basketball hoops, play a board game, or just chill out and make new friends.

The centre also has a performance space that can be accessed for bands, open mic nights, gigs, trivia nights and more.

The Albion Park youth space, for 12-24 year olds, is located at Albion Park Community Centre. It’s open on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 2 pm to 5 pm offering a space for young people to grab a toasted sandwich, drink and snack, play some table tennis, or just relax.

For more information about Shellharbour City Council’s Youth Services, visit the website.

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