Youth at Mountains Youth Services (MYST) can shoot hoops and hang out in style at a new basketball court and conversation area at the back of the Waratah St, Katoomba, centre thanks to caring tradies.

Long-time Blue Mountains company Now & Zen Landscapes undertook the revamp of the unused overgrown area as a non-profit service, part of its ongoing commitment to giving back to the community.

As well as cleaning, weeding, mulching and adding new plants, the team reshaped gardens, levelled the basketball court area and poured the concrete court basketball court.

Now & Zen master landscaper Shannon Decker thanked Tunks Landscape & Building Supplies for donating landscape products and Metromix for donating concrete to the project. (Spalding donated the backboard, hoop and balls.)

"That saying: 'It takes a community to raise a child' is so true. We’re all chipping in, and every bit counts."

"Someone gave me a go when I was fourteen years old. Now it’s my turn to do something for the kids of today."

Mr Decker left school early and worked for a landscaper in The Hills District. He established Now & Zen Landscapes in 1999.

Today, Now & Zen incorporates landscaping and garden design, concreting, a recycling and composting property and The Source Bulk Foods Katoomba.

Mr Decker himself is the local industry authority, responsible for the education and training of the next generation in landscaping design and techniques. He also sits on The Landscape Association board.

MYST is an early intervention mental health charity supporting vulnerable young people aged 12 – 24 in the Blue Mountains with a range of services, programs and activities.

It aims to empower young people to grow emotionally, physically and intellectually so they build resilience and self-belief to be able to overcome life’s challenges and adversity, get back on track and grow up with prospects not problems.

MYST fundraising and marketing manager Gailene Keen said demand for the service was acute and growing each day, mainly because of ongoing compound disasters of bushfires, floods and pandemic.

"We have seen a dramatic increase in the number of referrals to our service with a minimum of one a day, and most cases are presenting with much higher and complex needs," she said.

The latest MYST statistics were a sad illustration, she said.

  • MYST currently supported more than 220 youth in the Blue Mountains and received about seven new referrals a week
  • 92 per cent of clients who attended MYST youth centres or counselling services indicated they had self-harmed more than once in the last 12 months
  • 94 per cent of clients reported having suicidal thoughts in the last 12 months

The rise in referrals and extra support needed by clients had put pressure on the charity’s already stretched budget, and many fundraisers and programs had been cancelled or impacted because of the pandemic, Ms Keen said.

She thanked all the trades businesses for their involvement in the project: "We seriously could not have otherwise done this.

"As well as counselling and other programs we offer, one of the main ways to keep young people healthy and mentally well is to encourage physical activity, engagement with others and outdoor activity.

"This new space will do that and be well used."

The half-sized basketball court would provide young people with an outlet through which to channel negative emotions like aggression or anxiety in a positive way and develop good social and interpersonal skills, she said.

Go to www.myst.com.au for more information about MYST services and programs.

The Now & Zen Landscapes showroom, 351 Great Western Hwy, Bullaburra, is open from 8am to 3pm each Saturday. Email mailto:info@nowandzenlandscapes.com.au to book an appointment.

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