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Column 17th October 2018

Sweatbox is great, but more options needed for youth

As mentioned in the Herald last week, Sweatbox had the official opening of the new location last Thursday.

It is a purpose designed Youth Centre within King Alfred’s Academy East Site and consists of a coffee bar area equipped with pool table, air hockey, table football and big screen TV, a joining hallway which acts as a breakout space and a small but impressive mirrored stage room featuring a sophisticated lighting and sound system.

On Tuesday and Friday nights, Sweatbox takes over the Academy’s main hall, gym, patio area and playing fields to offer a changing range of sports, arts and fun activities.

On Thursdays during term time it opens as Beatbox for young people with special needs aged 11-18.

King Alfred’s Academy has over 1,600 pupils and although some of these pupils won’t be from the Wantage area, other young people may go to other schools so I guess 1,600 is a reasonable estimate of the number of young people in the area.

So what do young people do in the evenings?

There are a number of Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers Units based in Wantage, Grove and the surrounding villages who all meet once each week.

Wantage Football Club has 13 junior Teams as well as an Under 18 women’s Team and Under 17 and Under 19 men’s Teams.

Wantage and Grove Cricket Club provides youth training every Friday evening in the season and Challow and Childrey Cricket Club have 5 youth Teams and an Under 19 Team.

Grove Rugby Club has 15 Under 18 Teams.

Wantage Air Cadets have regular training sessions.

Wantage Lawn Tennis Club offers a coaching programme for juniors and club sessions.

Wantage Band has a junior band and welcomes all ages.

There are a number of dance classes around the area.

But if you aren’t in to sport, music or any school related activities or just want to hang out with your mates – where can you go?

The Beacon and Wildwood offer occasional films but if you want to go to Didcot Cinema there are no bus services after 8pm.

There is nowhere in Wantage or Grove for young people to gather except Sweatbox and great as that is, it provides for about 150 children once or twice each week and it’s on school premises.

One of the proposed community centres on Crab Hill and Grove Airfield could provide an answer if someone was brave enough to take the challenge.


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