According to a 2016 report by Interior Health there was a 75 per cent increase in mental health and/or substance use cases for children and youth in Penticton between 2014 and 2015.
As planning continues, community organizations are starting the first steps towards raising funds for a youth centre to tackle these problems.
That 75 per cent spike can be compared to a 1.6 per cent increase over the same time in Kelowna, and a 14 per cent decrease in Kamloops.
A local business owner is stepping up prior to the official YES Project fundraising campaign to help get momentum for the project rolling.
Live at Ascend, a concert series lending support to the project, is hosting the first show on Aug. 6 at the salon, with Ari Neufeld and Penticton up-and-comer Thomas Jacyna playing as well.
The YES (Youth Engagement Strategy) Project, funded through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan-Similkameen and United Way, is in the business plan stages for the centre, aiming for different grants and getting closer to the beginning of their official fundraising drive.
Live at Ascend was organized completely by Ascend Salon, with the YES Project campaign looking to start up in the near future. Ascend owner David Greenwood bumped into Erdmann and the fundraiser started rolling from there.
“I get to meet people of all ages and young people and they’re always talking about not having resources or things to do, or if they’re running into troubles in their life, a place to go,” Greenwood said. “I’ve heard their stories over the years, so I really knew that building something to create resources for youth in the community was desperately needed. Just hearing (about the project) it immediately clicked with me that’s where I needed to go and to get behind.”
Greenwood is aiming to have local performers play at the upcoming dates for the series, with the format hopefully bringing a young up-and-comer to the stage for each event. Other local businesses are getting behind the concert series as well which is entry by donation, including The People’s Crafthouse, Bad Tattoo Brewing, Skaha Pizza,
MyApparel.ca, Craft Corner Kitchen and The Rocky Bean Co. who will all be on site selling goodies to raise more money for the YES Project.
The fundraiser caught YES Project co-odrinator Amberlee Erdmann by surprise.
“It was really out of the blue and for us to build a youth centre we’re going to need a lot of support from the community and local businesses. So it was such an amazing feeling to have David step forward and start fundraising for a youth centre,” Erdmann said.
Without a youth centre, there is one youth bed at the South Okanagan Women In Need Society (SOWINS), but nowhere to turn for male youth who need a safe space.
“There’s a massive gap in the community. We have a big goal, but it’s to fill a big gap in the community,” Erdmann said.
The youth centre would be a “one-stop-shop” for Penticton youth with the goal of breaking down barriers.
“We know in the past few years there have been some tragic suicides of youth, so we hope by providing these more accessible and timely resources that we can support youth better.”
Live at Ascend starts at 7 p.m. Aug. 6 at the salon and all ages are welcome.
If you are not able to attend this fundraiser but would like to make a donation to The YES Project, donations are being accepted Tuesday through Saturday at Ascend Salon, through the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similakmeen (250-493-9311), or via www.pentictonyouth.ca.