Teens reveal their skate expectations

PUBLISHED: 16:38 18 October 2006 | UPDATED: 13:33 04 May 2010

Josh Oddi, 13, and Steven Shipp, 15

Josh Oddi, 13, and Steven Shipp, 15

TWO Witchford teenagers, fed up with a lack of facilities for youngsters in the district, have taken matters into their own hands and are determined to build a £500,000 skate park and youth centre in the village. Josh Oddi, 13, and Steven Shipp, 15, are a

TWO Witchford teenagers, fed up with a lack of facilities for youngsters in the district, have taken matters into their own hands and are determined to build a £500,000 skate park and youth centre in the village.

Josh Oddi, 13, and Steven Shipp, 15, are appealing for the help of the wider community in realising their ambition of constructing the centre, which would house an internet cafe, youth offices and a band rehearsal venue.

Josh, a pupil at Witchford Village College, said the idea came to him after he was elected as a member of the UK Youth Parliament two years ago.

"Young people want facilities that they don't have," he said.

"I contacted the parish council and asked if there was anything they could do and the clerk suggested we set up a committee."

A committee was established, but the project stalled when questionnaires designed to gauge opinion about the project were lost following a distribution problem.

Now Josh and friend Steven, also a pupil at the college, are determined to resurrect the scheme.

"Kids are on the streets smoking and they need somewhere to go - there's quite a big vandalism problem in Witchford," Josh said.

Steven continued: "Teenagers are being given a bad name; it's not an excuse, but the reason they are doing these things is because they've got nowhere to go."

The pair have approached Ely firm Digital Creations, which has agreed to produce 1000 new questionnaires for distribution amongst young people and a website for the project.

They hope to get sponsorship from local businesses, but say they are first looking for an adult to act as treasurer for the scheme.

"We're old enough to set up a bank account, but companies aren't going to say, "here's 10 grand" to a couple of teenagers, so we need someone who can help us," Steven said.

Josh and Steven also hope to secure the services of a local architect to help with designs, and they hope to build the centre on the grounds of Witchford Village College.

Principal John Shield said he has given his provisional approval to the idea.

"I am happy to support this initiative," he said.

"There is little enough for our local young people to do in Witchford and I believe this would be a popular facility - the college is here to provide a centre of activity and learning and, as a sports college we want to encourage all sports."

The pair will report the findings of the questionnaire to the parish council.

"Being two young people, it's going to be very difficult," Josh said.

"It's a massive project but there's a lot of people that love the idea and want it to happen."

Steven said: "It's not as if there's frequent transport to get to the facilities in Ely and there's nothing for us to do as an age group, so we are determined to do this."

INFO: If you think you can help with the project, contact Josh and Steven via e-mail at youthfacility@yahoo.co.uk

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