Westbourne youngsters pull their weight to fund new gym

Youth club’s two-year fundraising project creates fitness centre

A WESTBOURNE Green youth centre has celebrated the launch of a new gym after two years of fundraising to complete the project.

Teenagers at the Amberley Youth Project, based on Clearwell Drive, raised money through weekly food and cake sales to provide cash to help open the gym.

Despite a lack of available funds, the youngsters who attend the project decided to undertake the bid to create the fitness centre themselves, raising cash to pay instructors and decorating the building between them.

Shafik Ali, 16, who was in charge of the fundraising efforts, said: “Young people need more stuff to do.

“This project helps to show what young people can achieve but also what it’s like to live on a London estate.

“We all pulled together as young people and showed that anything is possible. It is a really proud day for us.”

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Project manager Julie-Ann Gayle said: “We have been fundraising through a number of different means. It has been a real group effort.

“Young people want to get fit and look good so they decided they wanted the gym. They want to be healthy and are looking after themselves.

“Increasingly young people are taking more responsibility for themselves and that’s something we try to instil in them.

“It has been very good. Everyone wants a go on the equipment and the boys have taken to it very well.”

The Amberley Youth Project, which was taken over by charity Working with Men in 2006, has catered for people aged 11 to 19 for the past 12 years.

As well as the new gym, the centre puts on a number of activities including cookery, film production, workshops, football and talk-based sessions.

“The project was about to close in 2006 so they asked us to take it over and we have been here working with young people in the community since then,” said Ms Gayle.

“It’s important because it directly meets the needs of young people.

“When they come here they say they feel safe and comfortable.

“It provides them with a vital service.”

Westbourne Councillor Adam Hug officially opened the fitness centre last week. He said: “It’s something that has been driven by young people on the Amberley estate. It’s a good facility and I hope it develops over time.

“Throughout north Westminster we have got a lot of young people in need of something productive to do with their time.

“A lot of people have worked hard to get this set up and it’s a positive alternative to people hanging out on the street.

“It’s what the young people have been calling for.”