Happy first birthday YAAS!

The Central Coast’s only dedicated LGBTQIA+ youth program has hit a first major milestone for youth support and inclusion. The award-winning arts initiative YAAS! Young Authentic and Social held their first social group for 12–17-year-old LGBTQIA+ youth and allies on R U OK? Day in September 2022 with nine attendees.

Since then, almost 400 young people have participated in their regular social groups and these numbers do not even include the those accessing the school holiday programs and dance parties which hosted up to 120 registrations per event.

YAAS! has provided a safe space for LGBTQIA+ youth on the Coast, to build a community, and to offer friendship and connection. A 16-year-old attendee stated “I didn’t have a community that cared about me like this before. YAAS! has brought so many young people together. I now know I’m not alone.”

YAAS! Senior Youth Worker and Producer Carlee Heise said, “The engagement we have seen from the community in the first year shows that YAAS! has filled a gap in our region. Now, diverse youth have a safe space to be themselves, make meaningful friendships and re-engage with their community, feeling empowered and full of hope for their future.”

Go to centralcoastpride.org.au for more info.

Read the full story in our Summer Edition of Hunter & Coastal Lifestyle Magazine or subscribe here.