County youth hub gets funding boost
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer, with files from Lisa Gervais | May 10, 2018
Haliburton will get its own youth hub.
On May 3, Marg Cox, executive director of Point In Time (PIT), announced that a joint application with Haliburton Highlands Health Services (HHHS) for provincial funding was successful. Although the amount is yet to be confirmed, they asked for nearly $1 million over three years. Haliburton was one of six successful applications out of 45 from across the province.
Cox, who was surrounded by staff, project partners and several young adults at PIT’s Haliburton office, said the decision-makers were impressed by the strong case put forward.
“People were really, really moved and felt we had a fantastic proposal because we have a community that’s coming together to make a difference for our youth,” she said. “It’s a really exciting time.”
The request was for $300,000 annually and $100,000 in philanthropic support. They submitted 17 letters of support from various agencies and included a video produced by local filmmaker Rowan Tofflemire. It featured comments from students about the lack of activities in the area and services available to them. The project has come to fruition because of the struggles youth are facing with mental health issues, bullying and substance abuse, to name a few. Forums were held late last year to gather input from parents and the community.
“We heard loud and clear from youth, parents and community members about the importance of a youth hub,” she said. “Youth have made it clear that they need a place where they belong, where they can be amongst their peers, and access a range of opportunities and supports.”
The hub would serve as gathering place with a range of supports, such as employment, housing, cooking, mental health and primary health care services. It will be modelled after Headspace, a foundation in Australia that provides early intervention mental health services and other assistance to 12-25-year-olds. It’s expected to open in October.
It’s unknown where the hub will be located, or if it will be in a leased or purchased space. This will be determined once the amount of the grant is known, said Cox. Jim Blake, a local consultant who prepared the application, said it will be somewhere in the village, within walking distance of schools. There will be adults in the space at all times, including trained staff. Cox couldn’t elaborate on staffing numbers but said several partners have offered in-kind support. It’s possible that current PIT staff, who have mental health training, will relocate to the hub.
“We’re definitely looking at hiring qualified and engaged people.” It will be open “as many evenings per week as possible and some weekends,” added Cox.
Several teens have already joined forces to establish a hangout at the Rec Room on York Street. Cox said the hub will build upon their efforts. She confirmed they will have a say in the hub’s creation.
Some of them expressed their enthusiasm for the hub and desire to get involved.
“I can’t say how much we need this,” said Liam Bergman. “The video speaks for itself, that there’s a lot of ongoing problems in the community that are unspoken.”
Two of the big issues the hub will address are drug use and mental health, he said. As for what happens when the funding runs out, Cox said community partners have demonstrated their commitment to keeping the hub going.
“I think what we have to figure out in the long-term is the best way to sustain that,” she said, adding that some supports could be merged together. Stephanie MacLaren, director of community support services for HHHS, said they are “looking at co-locating and moving some existing services around.”
In addition to the provincial money, the Haliburton County Development Corporation will be contributing $33,000 to the project this year, said Cox. As many as 12,000 youth across the province will be able to access wellness hubs because of funding, according to the Ministry of Children and Youth Services. For more information on how to get involved with Haliburton’s youth hub, visit pointintime.ca or call 705-457-5345.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.