WELLINGTON COUNTY – Egg Farmers of Ontario has donated $150,000 over five years to The Grove youth hubs in Guelph and Wellington County.
The donation comes as The Grove prepares to open new youth hubs in Guelph over the next two years with one planned to open at the University of Guelph this year.
The funding will go toward the $15-million capital campaign to help cover construction costs at the new sites.
“We’re at $10 million to date with just another $5 million to go,” said Cyndy Moffat Forsyth, director of The Grove Youth Hubs. “We’ve been very blessed with donations from individuals and companies.”
Moffat Forsyth said the existing youth hubs have been busy and there has been a 40 per cent increase in demand for mental health services for youth.
“It’s alarming,” she said. “The new pandemic is mental health and it’s rampant.”
The beauty of the youth hubs is that they are there for recreation and socializing but they are also a place youth can receive services such as tutoring, counselling, and link to other services not provided on site.
Moffat Forsyth said many young people come to a site just to check it out. They might play pool or basketball, charge their phones or use the wifi, take part in an art or cooking class and just hang out with their friends.
But over time they may feel comfortable enough to seek extra services.
“That’s why we’re in business,” she added. “We want to proactively provide services for youth, to act early versus waiting for a crisis.
“The beauty of this model is there’s no stigma.”
The Egg Farmers of Ontario is also donating eggs and some cooking equipment to the three youth hubs in Wellington County. Each of the sites – in Fergus, Erin and Palmerston – has a kitchen and youth are welcome to cook.
“This pandemic has been challenging for youth here in Ontario,” Scott Helps, chair of Egg Farmers of Ontario stated in a press release.
“For rural youth, the support they need may be a drive away. Mental health services may be inaccessible to those without transportation, or without awareness altogether.
“The Grove’s model brings these supports to the Wellington County community, which are already making a difference, and we are proud to contribute.”
Helps said his organization “is honoured to have the naming of the kitchen facilities as part of our commitment to the program to make youth aware they are not alone and there is a community of support behind them.”
The youth hubs don’t just support youth, Moffat Forsyth said. The Grove in Fergus is hosting a speaker series for parents and the next session, on Feb. 15, examines the adolescent brain.
For more information or to register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.