Youth come first at Foundry

Foundry East Kootenay recently opened its doors becoming the latest in a string of Foundry Centres across the province. The Foundry is a network of integrated health and social service centres for young people between the ages of 12 and 24.

3 minute read

A new Cranbrook centre offers an array of services to young people

It’s a welcoming entrance, with a covered doorway, lovely stone- and woodwork and a large sign reading “t̕ikxawiȼikimik” in Ktunaxa (“for all things to be connected”). Even more importantly, it’s welcoming inside.

This is Foundry East Kootenay, located in Cranbrook. Indeed, this is a spot where there is an abundance of connections to be made—between youth and the mental- and physical-health resources they need, plus a lot more.

“People are surprised about the extent of all the services,” says Amy Reid, Clinical Operations Manager for Foundry East Kootenay, which is operated by the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Child and Family Service Society (KKCFSS).

The centre recently opened its doors, with construction of its building supported by the Trust. It is the latest in a string of Foundry Centres opening across the province: a network of integrated health and social service centres for young people between the ages of 12 and 24.

At the turn of this decade, Colin Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at KKCFSS, heard about the provincial network and saw the need to bring it to the East Kootenay, too. “Our youth are really struggling,” he says. “I see it in my work every day. Also, I coach quite a bit of hockey, and see it even on the hockey teams. I felt that this was going to be a great asset for youth in our region.”

Whether they live in Cranbrook—where the centre is easily accessible to the middle schools and high school—or as far as Golden, Creston or Elkford, Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth are welcome. An app makes it easy to see what’s available at the centre and book appointments, along with getting some virtual resources. They can also walk right in.

There, the range of options is impressive, delivered by both dedicated employees and a range of partnering organizations. There’s space for a nurse practitioner and doctors, plus sexual health services and substance use supports. There are seven “talking rooms,” where youth can chat with another youth as part of the centre’s peer support services. There’s a kitchen, where they can learn life skills. There’s a cultural room. There’s a place simply to hang out or do homework.

“Just coming into the building and getting food or reading a book, and maybe casually connecting with somebody,” Reid says, “is a safe entry point so that if they do need further support, they might be willing and feel safe to access some of the providers.”

Partners like the Trust—which supports projects like this that focus on community well-being, Indigenous Peoples and youth—have been vital in getting Foundry East Kootenay on its feet.

The youth themselves are “very excited they have a space,” she says. Adults have also given feedback along the lines of, What would it have been like to have a space like this when we were growing up? We wish we had had a place like this.

Although Foundry East Kootenay is now up and running, it won’t remain static. “Youth drive what services and programming we need,” Reid says. “It’s community-driven.” Once the centre gets an idea of which resources get used and what gaps there are, the offerings can be adjusted. “That’s one of the really great parts: how flexible we can be based on the changing and growing needs.”

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