Palmerston youth hub to open before end of year

MAPLETON – The Integrated Youth Services Network hub in Palmerston is set to open at the end of November or beginning of December.

At its Oct. 27 virtual meeting,  Mapleton council heard a presentation from Jessica Dettman of Minto Mental Health and Cyndi Forsyth, director of the Integrated Youth Services Network (IYSN).

The IYSN is a project to address the rates of suicide, mental health issues and addictions in Wellington County and Guelph.

The IYSN is a partnership between service organizations and volunteers to create a one-stop shop for youths aged 12 to 25.

“They’re designed to meet a wide range of needs, starting from anywhere from mental health and substance use, primary care, education, employment, training, housing supports and community and social services, all the way to just a recreational and … safe space for youth,” Dettman said.

“And in the design of these spaces we want youth to be at the forefront of our ideas, so we’re involving our youth as well.”

In Palmerston the hub will be located at the former Solutions building on Main Street in Palmerston, adjacent to Norwell District Secondary School.

The hub has partnered with Centre Wellington designer Angela Murphy.

“After we met with our youth three times this summer to get their ideas, we had an awesome youth from Norwell take the initiative and actually, on his own time, complete a questionnaire to send out to all the youth,” Dettman said.

“We got back information from 84 responses and it was from what colour you want the walls to what kind of services you wanted, so it was encompassing of everything we wanted for ideas.”

The counselling rooms are all themed to make them more inviting for youths. For example, one has a big porch swing and another has a green couch and chandelier.

There will also be space for music and entertainment as well as other multi-use spaces.

An IYSN hub is set to open within the next week or two in Erin and in Centre Wellington, adjacent to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Centre Wellington’s B Hive, a space is set to open in February.

Four sites in Guelph are scheduled to open by 2022.

“These will be all connected,” Dettman said. “It’s essentially that one-stop shop, so youth do not need to tell their stories twice, three times, over and over again, because that’s traumatizing and exhausting for our youth and for anybody for a matter of fact.

“So if they walk into the Fergus site, if they come from a blended family and when a parent lives in the Fergus area they can walk in there and tell their story and then that will be connected on a database to the Minto site, to all the other six sites so they don’t have to tell their story twice.

“They can pick them up where they left off to ensure that they’re getting the support they need at the time they need them.”

This will also improve communication and information sharing among service providers.

By engaging youth in programs like this, Dettman said it gives them with a sense of belonging, and purpose, and they’re connected to something that’s bigger than themselves.

“Youth need to learn how to seek the help they need when they need it,” she said. “The frontal lobe isn’t fully developed; therefore they don’t identify risk well and more importantly they don’t identify hope well and we need to help them see the bigger picture and help them to identify both of those things.”

The IYSN is 41 per cent of the way to its $10-million campaign goal.

“Now we’re focusing on some site-specific fundraising for Palmerston and those Wellington County sites that are the priority to open,” Dettman said.

Councillor Marlene Ottens asked about ongoing funding.

Forsyth explained that 70% of the $10-million goal will go toward capital costs at the hubs and 30% will go towards programming and ongoing costs for one to two years.

The IYSN is also working with the provincial government and asking for ongoing sustainable funding for 10 years, with the hope of receiving enough for five years.

North Wellington Community News