What do the youth really want?

What do the youth really want?

It’s the question that seems to pop up at every local election in the Southern Highlands: “What do the youth really want?” It’s always a key election issue, because there are a lot of families in the Southern Highlands with young kids and teenagers.

For years, people complained that there wasn’t enough for the young people of Wingecarribee Shire to do. We need a bowling alley, they cried. Well, now the Highlands does have a bowling alley in Mittagong. We need jobs for the youth, people said. Well, the Highlands Marketplace and new commercial developments in Bowral have given rise to plenty of jobs for younger people over the past few years.

But still there is the question: What do the youth really want? I am 25, so I am not classified as a youth anymore. But about 7 years ago, when I had just turned 18 and started working for the Southern Highland News, I admit I often found myself wanting more things to do in my spare time. I found myself hanging out at the local pubs all the time, and while playing pool and poker machines is fun for me, not everyone enjoys spending lots of time at the pub.

For example, Macarthur Square just north of the Highlands has a lot of things for young people to do – movies, a video game arcade, laser tag, and a bowling alley – not to mention the dozens of shops, extensive food court and overall roominess which makes it a great “hanging out” spot for youth. So, let me ask the question, does the Southern Highlands need a video game arcade?

For those of you who remember, the Highlands used to have its own video game arcade called Planet Bowral. It used to be underneath the Empire Cinema where the fragrance store Glam is now. Planet Bowral was an awesome place to go before or after the movies. It had your standard arcade video games, plus several pinball machines, an air hockey table, and more. It was probably the best arcade I’ve ever been to. However, times change, and as it went, Planet Bowral moved to Sherwood Village (on the other side of the railway line from the Bowral CBD), and it has now been closed for some time. I think Bowral needs a place like Planet Bowral once again. It would reinvigorate the town and give the youth something to do – and I know I would go to such an arcade too!

We could speculate all day, but in the end I think the best way to find out what the youth really want is to ask the youth themselves. Maybe the youth want something completely different. A theme park in East Bowral perhaps? Who knows, maybe there is a developer somewhere in Sydney who has the money and loves the Southern Highlands! But for now, I ask the question of all Southern Highlands youth: What do you really want?

By Jed Kemsley

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