Young talent revealed

Flicking the Switch:Young people are increasing their confidence and staying out of trouble through Com4unity’s Switch program. Pictures: Scott Leano of V&L Photography

Flicking the Switch:Young people are increasing their confidence and staying out of trouble through Com4unity’s Switch program. Pictures: Scott Leano of V&L Photography

Flicking the Switch:Young people are increasing their confidence and staying out of trouble through Com4unity’s Switch program. Pictures: Scott Leano of V&L Photography

Flicking the Switch:Young people are increasing their confidence and staying out of trouble through Com4unity’s Switch program. Pictures: Scott Leano of V&L Photography

A PROGRAM run by Blacktown youth for their peers continues to steal the spotlight and change lives, despite the threat of funding cuts.

Rain didn't dampen spirits at Westpoint Blacktown on Thursday night, where participants from Com4unity's Switch program attracted a big crowd as they showed off their talents in dance, hip-hop, expressive word, music and drama.

Around 40 young people aged 12-18 attend Switch each Friday nights at the PCYC Blacktown, where classes are run by previous participants.

Switch graduates have progressed to international dance competitions or gone onto pathways to education, training and employment.

Around 500 young people have gone through the program in the past four years.

"It provides a platform for expression and changes young people's mindsets," Com4unity co-ordinator Jojo Tau said.

"It's run by up young people for young people from different walks of life. Com4unity makes it happen. Some of these kids may end up making bad decisions if Com4unity didn't exist."

Doonside teenager Bianca Pascoa, 17, joined Switch three years ago and is now a mentor.

She choreographed the dance acts in last Thursday's showcase.

"It's the best thing to do on a Friday night," she said.

"I have no idea what I'd be doing otherwise but I'm glad the program exists. It provides so many opportunities to young people."

Parent Kerry Fletcher feared daughter Alissa might be roaming the streets on Friday nights otherwise if the Switch program didn't exist.

"There's nothing to do for kids to do on a Friday or Saturday night these days, compared to when I grew up in the area," she said.

Started by former Blacktown Superintendent Mark Wright, Com4unity is a partnership between Blacktown police, Rotary, Blacktown Council, Westpoint Blacktown and Marist Youth Care.

It was hailed as one of the best crime prevention programs in Australia 12 months ago when it received a $270,000 grant from the former federal government to extend the program.

The Coalition government has since diverted the funding elsewhere.

Com4unity chairwoman Cate Sydes recently told the Sun the funding cuts would result in reducing the capacity of the Switch program.

Sargents Pies Charitable Foundation is one of the businesses that financially support the program.

Manager Brian Andrews is hoping that the business sector will cover the shortfall to keep Com4Unity going if the government funding is cut.

■ SWITCH Hip-Hop and Lyric Music: Fridays 6.30pm-8.30pm, PCYC, 30 Second Avenue,

Blacktown.

■ SWITCH Drama and Spoken Work: Tuesdays 4pm-6pm, Marist Youth Care ONE Centre, Blacktown.

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