Scratch, the former Urban Center of Sihame El Kaouakibi, has been around for a year: “As an adolescent you need a place to discover yourself” (Antwerp)

Scratch, the former Urban Center of Sihame El Kaouakibi, has been around for a year: “As an adolescent you need a place to discover yourself” (Antwerp)
Scratch, the former Urban Center of Sihame El Kaouakibi, has been around for a year: “As an adolescent you need a place to discover yourself” (Antwerp)
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Ping pong, football, free running, wall climbing or just relaxing in an armchair. It was all on the agenda for Scratch’s first birthday party Saturday afternoon. Organizations such as Kras, Habbekrats and Battle Droids Crew support this youth center on Sint-Bernardsesteenweg on Kiel. Professional youth workers and volunteers offer a wide range of leisure activities. Hip-hop culture is the common thread.

It has now been almost three years since the contents of Let’s Go Urban were emptied in the Urban Center, in the wake of the discredited founder of Let’s Go Urban and politician Sihame El Kaouakibi. This did not sit well with the young people who had found a second home in the Urban Center. There were fears of a breach of trust between the young people in this neighborhood and the youth workers.

But that confidence appears to have been restored three years later. Scratch received 1,008 children and young people in 2023. They came for one of the 861 activities that were organized there.

Volunteers Ibtissam and Ibrahim.

Volunteers Ibtissam and Ibrahim. — © Patrick De Roo

Volunteers Ibtissam Koubaa (23) from Kiel and Ibrahim El Abbassi (21) from Deurne-Zuid are both convinced of the importance of Scratch. “It is important that children and young people come here to do positive things, follow their interests and develop their talents,” says Ibrahim. “Otherwise they hang around in the squares and threaten to come into contact with people who have the wrong intentions.”

According to Ibtissam, such an offer is especially important for children. “When they reach puberty, they look for an identity,” says the volunteer. “Especially at that stage of life you need a place where they can discover themselves. I always find it great to see how these young people throw themselves into something with passion. In one year I saw that happen several times here in Scratch.”

According to Ibtissam and Ibrahim, the whole affair surrounding Let’s Go Urban and the Urban Center has not left too many marks on the young people in the area. “I don’t have that feeling,” says Ibrahim. “We also offer more activities than at the Urban Center back then.”

Ibtissam also confirms this. “There are young people here who came to the Urban Center in the past,” says the volunteer. “A year ago there was nothing in this room. We started from scratch. We then started building together with the young people. Moreover, there is still an offer of dance, as was possible in the past. Only we offer much more. I am convinced that by involving them in this way and the wide range of activities, we were quickly able to reach many young people again.”

Cooperation

According to Camine Van Hoof of Scratch and Battle Droids Crew, the varied offering is possible due to the collaboration of the three organizations. “They each have their own strength,” says Camine. “Kras has been active in this neighborhood for the longest time. Habbekrats has experience in organizing an open house. Young people can just walk in here at certain times and hang out if they want. And we as Battle Droids introduce children and young people to all facets of hip-hop culture, from dance to graffiti.”

READ ALSO. After the drama with Let’s Go Urban: “Young people still find their way to this youth center”

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