Freedom Quest Regional Youth Services has received a $23,399 Columbia Basin Trust social grant to produce a video and curriculum focusing on marginalized and at-risk youth from the West Kootenay. The video will be showcased at the Creating Caring Communities conference in May.
Freedom Quest programs operate under the Doukhobor Heritage Retreat Society and are funded by Interior Health, Ministry of Children and Families, United Way and private donations. They have also received a three-year Community Action Initiative grant from the BC government. Receiving grants enables them to expand the programs they can provide.
Freedom Quest provides youth addictions outreach and mental health services in the West Kootenay/Boundary. They provide one-on-one services to over 1,000 youth and families a year as well as presentations to an additional thousand youth through school and community outreaches.
Services include one-on-one drug and alcohol counselling and outreach, therapeutic recreational programming, community prevention, day treatment programs, hospital liaison services and community mental health services.
The hope of the project is that by highlighting the visual account of marginalized youth, greater awareness in the larger community of the impacts of poverty, family violence, abuse and/or neglect on young people will be gained and help these youth feel like they matter, can participate, be re-engaged in community, and feel a sense of belonging.
The project focuses on those between the ages of 18 and 28. Freedom Quest executive director Teresa Winter explained why they wanted to work with this age group: “That is the transition age. At age 19, youth age out of youth services and into adult services. It has forever been an issue. That transition is often not successful. That is where we find the highest number of overdoses and deaths in our region.
“It is an area that needs a lot of attention in terms as to how government policy is created around this transition age and how we as youth services and adult services work together to create support for individuals in that age category.”
Producing the photo voice video and presenting it at the conference is just the beginning of the project. A curriculum will then be developed to accompany it and be used to plan and coordinate prevention activities throughout the next year.
“We want to use it for education with youth, education with parents, but also on a policy level,” Winter said. “If we can create change in people’s attitudes towards youth and substance use, that’s our goal. We want to look at the social situations of those youth and not just the substance use. How can we support those young people so substance use does not become an issue?”
The Creating Caring Communities Committee includes ANKORS, IHA addictions and mental health, Selkirk College, and affiliate social services agencies. The conference will be held May 14-15 at Selkirk College and will include regional service providers, community members and four keynote speakers.