The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna is being recognized for their unique housing program for youth.
The program, called Bright Mindz, has received an honorary mention from the Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards, which are handed out to organizations that have ‘created an innovative initiative that have truly accelerated approaches to youth homelessness prevention in Canada’.
Bright Mindz is a youth housing initiative comprised of 18 micro suites for youth between the ages of 17-24 who are on the path towards adulthood. Focusing on advancing a young person’s education or career, the program provides homes to young people to experience independence while still having access to support.
CMHA Kelowna CEO, Mike Gawliuk says it is an honour to be recognized along with other programs from across the country that are taking a different approach to preventing youth homelessness.
“CMHA Kelowna is proud to operate the Bright Mindz program. We are providing youth with a home, and the supports and connections they need to prevent them from becoming the next generation of unhoused adults.”
The program launched in 2019 in an apartment building constructed by Worman Homes. The local builder worked closely with CMHA Kelowna to be able to provide an entire floor of suites for the program. Bright Mindz is further supported through partnerships with other youth service organizations in the community, BC Housing, and the Ministry of Child and Development. Local donors like the KGH Foundation Kiwanis Legacy Foundation played a significant role in supporting the program during its first few years of operation.
The Making the Shift Youth Homelessness Prevention Awards ceremony will take place in Halifax in November. Gawliuk says he hopes this recognition will help programs like this gain more support and funding. “At a time when so many communities are urgently focused on addressing the needs of unhoused individuals, it is essential to also consider the necessity and impact of prevention and early intervention initiatives, in particular those focused on youth and young adults.”