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Former NeurVana resident speaks out

Jennifer Zielinski

A former resident and life coach at the NeurVana Recover and Wellness Centre in Kelowna is speaking out against the facilities owners following the closure of the centre.

It was shut down by the provincial government after allegations arose it was operating without a license, and now three families are suing the treatment facility claiming their children were mistreated and bullied.

Danielle Downs resided at the centre two years ago and says she isn't surprise by the families allegations.

"I knew it was coming. I am sorry that so many people had to go through it, but I was confident that something would happen."

Downs was friends with the daughter of the owner, David Kenny. She says she was diagnosed with arthritis and was struggling with the new disability.

"I was having a tough time with it and they really feel good about what they do so they offered (their service) to me."

The Kenny's allegedly offered Downs a place in the centre free of charge, where she could participate in NeurVana's programs such as therapy and rehabilitation sessions.

The former resident says she was told she would be placed in a wellness program and would not be treated like an 'at risk youth' or that of a younger teen, but would be able to access the personal chef, activities coach and a meditation series.

She realized that treatment at the centre came at quite a cost, and because she had not paid to be there she wanted to give back for the help she had received. However it was at that point where she noticed things in a different light.

"I wanted to help youth, it is toted as a wonderful idea to help younger people get back on their feet," she explains. "I have a Psych degree, that is what I wanted to do, I thought this could be my chance, but it wasn't right."

Downs alleges the Kenny's were rude to staff, manipulative and yelled at both her and other residents.

"They could learn everything about you and use it against you however they wanted, to make themselves feel good."

Accusations of swearing at the residents are claimed in the lawsuit against the Kenny's, and Downs says she did hear David yell sometimes.

"The things that he talked about my family, were more hurtful to me," she states. "He insulted me and my family, as did she (David's wife Susan)."

She claims she felt used and hurt, but that isn't the reason she left. Downs says she left because she had arranged a vacation before ever attending the clinic.

"They said I couldn't do it, that I wasn't strong enough, they said no."

After approximately four weeks at NeurVana, Downs did leave and says she is still recovering from the trauma she suffered while at the centre.

The lawyer for "The NeurVana Recovery and Wellness Centre" and David and Susan Kenny was unable to be reached for comment regarding Downs' accusations.

None of these allegations have been proven in court.

- With files from CBC

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