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Kelowna  

Kelowna's first long-term youth recovery beds set to open

Home for recovering youth

For the first time, young people in Kelowna struggling with addiction will have a safe place to stay for several months while recovering from their substance use issues.

Last month, the province announced funding for 10 youth treatment beds in Kelowna, run by the The Bridge Youth & Family Services. The local organization had been lobbying the government to fund local youth beds for upwards of five years. In the past, The Bridge has offered a short-term detox program for youth, but those needing longer-term support were forced to travel to Prince George or Vancouver for publicly funded, and therefore free, support.

The Bridge has since secured a former seniors living facility near Kelowna's Capri area, and young people requiring care are expected to begin moving into the facility by the end of April.

“We know that intervening earlier can alter the trajectory of their drug use and frankly their full participation in society, so we want to really help people stay on that positive path,” said John Yarschenko, director of recovery and addiction services with The Bridge. “Equally, we know the devastating effects on families, so really being able to help with family reunification and supporting families to remain together and support each other is going to be key parts of the program.”

The new home can house up to 10 young people for stays of up to three months, or longer if needed, while an additional four beds are available for the shorter term detox program.

So far, four young people have expressed interest in the new facility's services, but Yarschenko says he wants to get the word out to the community that spots are available for young people in need.

He added that the services provided will be highly individualized for each participant in the program, and each person's length of stay and type of support will vary widely.

“It's going to be important that the care plan and the work that's done is meaningful to them, and that they have a voice in that and this is where they want to be,” he said. “This needs to be a place that pulls people to the service because they're receiving something they want.

“This is a voluntary facility; people can come here and stay as short of time as they want. If they come on Day 1 and they want to leave on Day 2 because it's not fitting their needs, we're going to stay connected with them and help them get reconnected back to their home community.”

The facility has had an industrial kitchen installed, where youth can learn to feed themselves and their housemates, while learning life skills that will be transferable once they leave the program. Yarschenko said teaching people in recovery necessary life skills is a big part of helping people be successful later on in life.

“What we've heard across the board from people is that a service for them when they were younger would have changed their life in significant ways and they express gratitude that this service is coming locally because they see the possibilities for society having a service like this,” Yarschenko said.

The Bridge's facility is opening just as B.C. marks the five-year anniversary of declaring the overdose public health emergency. Since then, more than 7,000 British Columbians have died from overdoses.

The new facility is just Phase 1 of The Bridge's ultimate goal though. For years, the organization has been raising funds with the goal of opening up a purpose-built 16-bed youth recovery house more embedded in nature.



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