Early supporters attended an event at The Kelowna Art Gallery on June 20th where The Bridge Youth & Family Services announced the start of their campaign to raise $10M over the next two years to build a live-in Youth Treatment program in the Central Okanagan.
Executive Director, Celine Thompson explained that The Bridge receives calls weekly from families in distress, looking for treatment for their son or daughter – only to be told that none exist here. According to Thompson, the extensive wait lists for the mere 45 publicly funded spaces in all of British Columbia wastes the small window of opportunity that exists for young people who have gathered their strength and resolve to pursue recovery. “Based on referrals to our youth detox, and the data from the BC Coroners reports, there is a need for live-in treatment program in our community for children as young as 12. Perhaps younger.”
Young people make up more than 20% of the overdose fatalities in BC; the rate of death of children and youth between 10 and 18 years of age doubled from 2016 to 2017 – and shows no signs of abating. Youth Detox Program Manager Jamie McGregor says, “these young people and their families are known to us, they are not numbers on a page. We have a front row seat to those children who die alone, often in public spaces, with no one there to comfort them or care. It shatters us.”
Dr. Tom Warshawski, Chief of Pediatrics, Kelowna General Hospital, echoed the dire need for treatment options in the Okanagan for children and youth, and highlighted the proven benefit of early intervention.
Deputy Mayor Mohini Singh offered the City’s support to The Bridge: “We, at the City of Kelowna, recognize that the Youth Recovery House will serve to prevent the painful path into addictions, along with the struggle with trauma, poverty, homelessness and family breakdown that often accompany it.” Council endorsed, in principle, the premise of the Journey Home Strategy in early May. As the work on the homelessness strategy has unfolded, the need for youth substance use treatment has been highlighted as a key gap in the local system of care that needs to be addressed said Singh.
The Board of Directors of The Bridge has invested $300K of its reserve funds for the Youth Recovery House project, and has committed that no funds donated to the project will be used for fund development, administration or staffing. “Absolutely every penny of every dollar raised will be invested in this life-saving resource for our young people, “says Board Member Bob Levin.
The first fundraising event for the Youth Recovery House will be a rooftop campout hosted by the Professional Firefighters Association Union Local 953 at the Kelowna Yacht Club on the weekend of July 21st.
For more information or to donate visit www.youthrecoveryhouse.ca