ERIN – The Town of Erin welcomed the grand opening of the Main Place Youth Centre, a space for youth to find access to recreational activities and mental health resources.
In partnership with The Grove, East Wellington Community Services (EWCS) and Main Place Youth Centre have created a place for youth in the Community Living Centre in Erin.
“To actually see it come to fruition and know that youth in our community are hopefully going to get the resources that they need to thrive just means so much to me and I’m so very grateful to be a part of it,” CEO of EWCS Kari Simpson said.
While the centre began operating earlier this year, Aug. 19 marked the official grand opening of the youth centre “to signify a turning point for local youth mental health and wellness” in Erin, an Aug. 17 press release detailed.
The centre was inspired by Patrick Suessmuth, “a coach who inspired a generation of Erin kids to have fun, push their limits and believe in themselves.” Suessmuth passed away at the age of 75 in 2014.
Since then, Simpson has been working with Main Place Optimists, a group of volunteers that vowed to continue Suessmuth’s legacy. Prior to his passing, she had been in conversation with him about forming a collective centre for youth.
“We’re now able to bring his dream to fruition and have this centre for our youth to come here,” she explained.
The grand opening featured a ribbon cutting ceremony and plaque presentation to honour Suessmuth and the new centre dedicated to youth mental health and wellness.
“Main Place Youth Centre is dedicated to providing recreational, educational, wellness and social programs year-round for local area youth,” the press release wrote.
In partnership with The Grove Hubs, formerly the Integrated Youth Services Network, the centre will provide youth with a number of services including counselling and case management services, referrals and resources, housing and employment assistance.
“The partnership we have with the The Grove just gives that holistic approach now,” Simpson explained. “Instead of just having the drop in and the recreational piece now we have a holistic program happening here where any youth, no matter where they’re at, can come to a safe space and get what they need.”
The Grove Hubs will include seven sites throughout Wellington & Guelph with sites already operating in Minto Mental Health in Palmerston and CMHA Waterloo Wellington in Fergus.
The Grove’s inaugural director Cyndy Moffat Forsyth said the centres represent “seven sites one door,” because of the connection and collaborative approach they create.
“Youth can walk in the door and get services that they need in real time,” she explained. “So instead of going to a service and waiting 10 months on a waitlist we have the resources here that can get them services in 10 minutes.”
Simpson and Moffat Forsyth noted the toll the last year has had on youth’s mental health, adding with the ongoing pandemic there’s been an uptake in social isolation for youth.
“We’re hoping to keep engaging youth and finding out what is it that they need, especially right now in the pandemic,” Simpson explained.
“All youth have been impacted significantly,” Moffat Forsyth added. “When we started this project, we knew one in five youth were suffering. We now think it’s closer to four in five.
“Anything from anxiety to depression to isolation, those are things that we need to address with youth and really bring coping strategies and helping youth lead a well life.”
Simpson said in order to ensure no youth are missing out on the services offered, the centre is using a hybrid approach.
“We are offering services in the centre right now but still doing virtual classes as well,” she explained. “Not everybody’s okay with coming out yet and we can’t have as many people in the centre as we’d like with the pandemic so we’re doing a hybrid of both.
“It’s important too that the youth in the community have a safe place to go just for recreation. That’s all part of mental health too is that physical use of it.”
Some of the recreational services offered at the centre include guided painting classes, yoga, one-on-one basketball and virtual cooking classes.
Moffat Forsyth said an important piece of the centre is to ensure the youth are engaged in a collaborative approach to creating a wellness place to aid them.
“We’re about integration, we’re about prevention. We want to look at youth from a holistic perspective,” she explained.
Supporting the future
“For me this is overwhelming and just such an incredible feat to be able to see this come to fruition, it’s very heart warming,” Moffat Forsyth said on the opening of the centre.
Simpson added her hope for the centre is that youth will take the time to access it and utilize the services that are available.
“Whether it’s just to come and hangout and play or whether it’s to access those more important services for their mental health and well-being,” she explained.
“I think it strengthens youth and youth who are thriving are going to make our community thrive as well because they are our future.”