By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
A handful of activities for youth in Barrhaven are coming to the neighborhood in hopes of keeping the younger community engaged.
The events, put on by the Nepean Rideau Osgoode Community Resource Centre, will take place over the next few weeks. They began with a barbecue and basketball tournament held at Moloughney Park on July 7. A few dozen local youth participated, and the Barrhaven West Community Association also got involved.
On August 17, an art program for youth will be held at the Charlie Conacher Community Building located at 30 Wessex Road. A similar event was held on July 14. The partnership between NROCRC and the City of Ottawa aims to get youth to share their creative side.
Then beginning on July 20, and taking place every Wednesday for four weeks, a ‘skills and drills’ basketball program will be happening at the same location.
NROCRC, which has been looking to expand its presence in Barrhaven, said when surveying youth in the community, much of their interests revolves around basketball.
“We believe that Barrhaven is such a fast growing area and there are a ton of youth here that are clearly struggling with mental health and trauma from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Madison Awender, a program coordinator at NROCRC. “The crime rates are going up in Barrhaven and we are trying to focus on that because the youth of Barrhaven have nothing to do.”
A recent report released by Ottawa Police showed crime was up 20.7 per cent in Barrhaven ward last year. In the neighbouring ward of Gloucester-South Nepean, which includes the other half of Barrhaven, crime was up 17.4 per cent in 2021.
In June 2021 the Barrhaven Independent Newspaper broke the story of a swarming which took place outside the Greenbank Road Farm Boy. It left a 16-year-old with what police described as “serious injuries.” The young teen suffered a concussion and a broken nose.
Then in early March 2022 Longfields Davidson Heights High School was forced into secure school mode after a stabbing took place in the building. The teen was left with serious injuries, but it was deemed non life-threatening.
It’s issues like this which led NROCRC to Barrhaven. In the fall they focused their efforts near the skate park on Berrigan, where many local youth like to hang out. They hosted a local barbecue and spoke with teens to find out what they want to see in the community.
Many of the youth surveyed said the community lacks activities for the younger population to do and are looking for more space for sports activities, especially in the winter months when it’s too cold to play outside. Indoor gym space is in high demand with local schools’ gyms already being booked out for private activities.
Awender says they want to bring more programming to Barrhaven and this is just the beginning of hopefully something bigger.
“Our hope is eventually having a more permanent location in Barrhaven and permanent programming because there’s nothing really there currently for the youth group of kids,” she said.
For more information on free youth programming taking place in Barrhaven, visit the Nepean Rideau Osgoode Community Resource Centre’s website.