Trish Kelly: Community centres are at the root of my activism
The root of my community activism goes back to 1992 when I was 16. Growing up, I was probably what’s now termed an at-risk youth.
I grew up in a single-parent family, under-housed and sometimes hungry. With nothing for youth to do in our neighbourhood, my friends and I were at a loss. With the help of a youth worker, my friends and I opened a youth drop-in that went on to become the all-ages venue The South Wall. The Province covered the story.
Community centres became my haven. That same year, I performed spoken word for the first time. A punk band called Rancid was playing a show at the Hastings Community Centre, and I was their opening act.
With my best friend holding my hand, I stood on the wooden stage of the community centre’s auditorium, and I spoke about what it was like to be young and a girl in a culture of violence against women. I got heckled a bit by some guy with a mohawk, and then he got told to be quiet. It was exhilarating and made me feel strong.
I want to run for park board because I see community centres and parks as important public spaces. For Vancouverites, especially those living in tight spaces, our parks can be our yards and community centres can be our living rooms.
The connections we make to these spaces are personal, and these assets are precious. I want to help leverage what we have and continue to plan for a park board system that makes everyone feel as welcome as I did as a young person.