Video – Beacon of Hope for Young People Opens in Port Hope

In Editor Choice, Local

By Cecilia Nasmith/Today’s Northumberland
As of Thursday afternoon, 15 Cavan St. in Port Hope became a beacon of hope for the young people of Northumberland County and Alderville First Nation as Ontario’s newest Youth Wellness Hub was launched.

A crowd that included representatives of Northumberland County, county council, the lead agency in the project and partner agencies in its operation, Cobourg and Port Hope police chiefs and community supporters gathered in the space to hear more about it from Mayor Olena Hankivsky, Rebound Child and Youth Services Northumberland Executive Director Nicole Wood, local MPP David Piccini, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Michael Tibollo and Minister of Health Sylvia Jones.

This is one of 10 new Youth Wellness Hubs, joining the 22 existing ones the province has supported since 2020. To date, these centres have connected more than 43,000 young people and their families to mental-health and wellness services (accounting for more than 168,000 visits).

The one at 15 Cavan St. will serve young people aged 12 to 25 (and their families) throughout the county and Alderville First Nation. A mobile hub will also be deployed for the benefit of young people in rural communities.

Noting that the launch took place during National Youth Week, Wood said, “We look forward to collaborating with our young people to bring our vision for this space to life.”

There is kitchen space for food. There is sound-proofed space if you want to practice on the guitar. There is space for the wrap-around services a young person might need – mental health and addiction services, primary-care services, a safe haven when kicked out by one’s family, recreational activities, a chance to make social connections, a place to get help with employment opportunities or with finding shelter.

Youth Wellness Hubs operate on what Wood called an integrated-service model to deliver what the press release termed trauma-informed and culturally appropriate care.

Minister Jones complimented Piccini as “such a strong advocate for mental-health supports.”

She acknowledged the “many incredible community partners for your work in making today’s development a reality,” enabling a variety of providers of care for youth “to address the needs of a diverse community in a safe youth-friendly place.”

Minister Tibollo offered the analogy of jumping into a turbulent river to save a child, only to see that so many more children are coming your way who also need saving. The only thing to do, he said, is to go upstream and try to stop those children from falling into the river. The YWH is a proactive measure that can offer just this kind of upstream intervention.

“It gives us a place to determine where those kids are falling into the river, and getting them the help they need so they don’t have to be saved at some point later on.”

Tibollo estimated that every $1 of such an investment saves $17 later on.

“Where would these kids be going if they didn’t have a Youth Wellness Hub,” he remarked – “it’s a very proud moment for all of us in government.

“I am sure David will be telling us, play by play, what’s happening here.”

Piccini likened this model to the Ontario Health Teams launched across the province (one of the first of them located in Northumberland County) – a co-operative collaboration of organizations and agencies with the health of the community in mind, its work shaped by the needs of that community. In the case of the OHT, innovations now offered as a result of their work together include a walk-in clinic in Colborne and the Northumberland Paramedicine Program.

Participants in the effort to establish a Youth Wellness Hub came to the table a year ago, Piccini said, with Cobourg’s and Port Hope’s police chiefs as strong advocates. Rebound was the lead partner for a collaborative plan whose other partners included YMCA Northumberland, Community Living and the Municipality of Port Hope.

Mayor Hankivsky had previously mentioned at Northumberland County council that this is the only Youth Wellness Hub between Toronto and Kingston.

She commended the partners in the effort – “the service providers across the county who have always done so much for so little” – and the chiefs of police who made it all possible.

“With this announcement, we say to the youth of our community, ‘We see you. We hear you. You are not alone. We stand with you and by you,’” the mayor said.

“This hub will be a beacon in their lives.”

Other speakers included a representative of the Youth Wellness Hub network and a Port Hope youth (now a student at the University of Ottawa) who celebrated the opportunity for young people to connect in a safe space.

The student recalled growing up in Port Hope and how nice it would have been to have more such opportunities than to meet at the local Walmart. He echoed the mayor’s comment, calling the space “a beacon of hope.”

Pete Fisher
Author: Pete Fisher

Has been a photojournalist for over 30-years and have been honoured to win numerous awards for photography and writing over the years. Best selling author for the book Highway of Heroes - True Patriot Love

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