Amberlee Erdmann, YES project co-ordinator, was one of a handful of people to get to take the first crack at renovations at the new Youth Resource Centre located at 501 Main St. during the first day of interior construction. Kristi Patton/Western News

Video: Construction begins at Penticton Youth Resource Centre

YES Project youth advisory committee members help with ground-breaking of youth centre

A break to a new beginning.

Some of the youth who were instrumental in the start of the YES Project – Foundry Penticton Youth Resource Centre were the first to pick up a sledgehammer at the ground-breaking that took place on Monday.

“We are breaking down that barrier, breaking down that wall, and through that we are going to flourish and create a really safe and awesome place,” said Hussain Sattar, a Grade 12 student and YES Project youth advisor and member of the YES steering committee.

Related: Grade 12 student an agent of change

Halfway to their $1.2 million fundraising goal for this phase for the youth centre, located at 501 Main St., will provide those from the ages of 12 to 24 with access to integrated health and social services.

The centre will offer core services including primary care, mental health and substance use services, sexual health, youth and family peer support and navigation, housing, supported employment, income assistance and education supports.

The youth centre is the result of several partnerships including OneSky Community Resources Society and the Community Foundation of South Okanagan-Similkameen. Throughout the process, local youth have had their say on not only the services, but the design of the building.

“It is a really good feeling knowing we are part of the change and part of the change that is going to come … Foundry wants our opinions because they know it is for us. It is probably one of the best feelings ever,” said Sattar.

Related: Penticton Youth Centre gains key resource

Emily Mossely, a Grade 11 student, has been a YES Project youth advisor for four years. She remembers the first YES Project event she went to and not really understanding what they were trying to accomplish.

“When I first started four years ago, the whole idea of the youth centre was just such an abstract notion that I didn’t even think it was possible. Now we are here in the space and starting construction and it is absolutely incredible to see. I am incredibly excited to see how many people this can help,” said Mossely.

Sarah Wood also has been instrumental, speaking on behalf of her peers through the YES Project since she was in Grade 9.

“I have been surrounded by so many other youth that are just really excited and determined to get this building up. I think it is amazing what youth can do when they set their minds to it,” she said.

Related: Anonymous donor gives big to Penticton Youth Resource Centre

In October, an anonymous donor stepped up to match up to $200,000 in donations for the youth centre for the Futures Start Here campaign. Donations must be received by the end of 2018 to be included in the matching program.

“It’s a really exciting time and a good opportunity for people to get involved and make a big difference in the community,” said Aaron McRann, executive director for the Community Foundation South Okanagan-Similkameen.

The Youth Resource Centre is expected to be fully operational in Spring 2019.

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