New Youth Wellness Centre would be added to south side of Greg Moore Youth Centre. (Contributed)New Youth Wellness Centre would be added to south side of Greg Moore Youth Centre. (Contributed)

B.C. program to help kids coming to Maple Ridge

Foundry Ridge Meadows focuses on early starts to solving problems

There is a plan to help kids trying to find their way.

There’s a place too, the Youth Wellness Centre, although it needs to be larger.

And on Monday, official word came that the program that makes it all happen will be coming to Maple Ridge.

Foundry Ridge Meadows will offer a ramped-up version of the pilot program that’s been running in the past two years. Once up and running in about a year and a half, Foundry Ridge Meadows will receive half-a-million dollars a year from the Ministry of Health.

“The Youth Wellness Centre has already been doing incredible work for young people in our community,” Maple Ridge-Mission MLA Bob D’Eith said in a release.

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“I’m so pleased to see them join the Foundry network with new provincial funding to enhance their work promoting youth wellness.”

The program offers a one-stop approach for helping youth, 12 to 24 years old, whether it be finding a job, help with school, or dealing with personal, health or addictions issues.

It’s based on the principle that the earlier kids get help, the easier it is to get back on track with their personal lives, school or work.

The Foundry builds on similar programs offered for the past two years at the Youth Wellness Centre.

The centre is located in the Greg Moore Youth Centre in downtown Maple Ridge.

One of those services is weekly visits by child psychiatrist Dr. Matt Chow.

Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy said the centre will offer “judgement-free” help for kids struggling with mental health issues and addictions, while Vicki Kipps, with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services, said volunteers in Maple Ridge came together to start the Youth Wellness Centre. Community Services is the lead agency that will manage the program.

“Now, as part of Foundry, we have the opportunity to enhance our vision of a stronger community, where youth have immediate and accessible services when they need it the most,” said Kipps.

“It’s about serving youth in a different way,” Kipps added.

“Communities are struggling to have that whole spectrum of services in their community.”

Foundry Ridge Meadows will offer those services, anything from helping with school, jobs, health or emotional issues that can create stumbling blocks just as kids are starting their lives.

Psychiatrist Dr. Britt Bright pointed out that Foundry bridges the gap in services those who are reaching adulthood. Many fall through the cracks during that critical time of making the transition from high school to further education or the work world.

Foundry Ridge Meadows will receive $400,000 in start-up money to get the program underway. Half of that came from a charitable donor.

“All of these volunteers, including Cheryl Ashlie and others, everyone working together, created this, but under the leadership of Vicki Kipps,” said Ron Antalek, chairperson of the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation board.

The hospital and Foundry program is a good partnership, he added.

However, the program needs a larger space than what’s currently available within the Greg Moore Youth Centre. It could find that at another location in Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, or it could operate within an expanded youth centre.

Maple Ridge council was to consider at its Tuesday meeting a $4.6-million expansion to the centre that would accommodate Foundry Ridge Meadows.

That two-storey, 9,000 sq.-ft addition on to the south side of the Greg Moore Youth Centre would be one possible location and would feature counseling rooms, medical exam rooms, a multi-purpose room, along with a waiting area and kitchen.

How that would be paid for, however, has not been determined.

The City of Maple Ridge has provided the space for free for the initial Youth Wellness Centre two-year pilot program.

Foundry centres are currently in Vancouver, Kelowna and Campbell River, North Vancouver and Prince George.

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