KELOWNA – Youth aged 12-24 in the Central Okanagan will soon have low-barrier access to health and mental health care through Foundry Kelowna’s new wellness on wheels service. Set to launch this summer, this new mobile unit, comprised of a retrofitted motorhome, will travel to West Kelowna, Westbank First Nation and Lake Country, to places where youth are – so they can more easily access the support they need, when they need it.
Operated by CMHA Kelowna and co-created with and for youth, Foundry Kelowna’s wellness on wheels project engaged more than 100 diverse youth from across the Central Okanagan to ensure the initial concept, look and feel, and services meet the unique needs of young people in this region.
This first-of-its-kind in BC mobile unit will initially be reaching out to youth in the Central Okanagan starting mid-June 2021, providing drop-in counselling and navigation supports, with plans to expand service levels by late August 2021.
Foundry Kelowna’s wellness on wheels service is an extension of Foundry’s provincial model of care, which is an integral part of A Pathway to Hope, BC’s roadmap for making mental health and addictions care better for people in British Columbia.
“I have heard from many parents that their children need access to more mental health and substance use services close to home and without delay”, said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “It is innovative and low-barrier services like Foundry’s new Kelowna wellness on wheels project that will make life-saving supports more easily accessible for young people in Central Okanagan. I look forward to hearing how this service is making a positive impact in the region.”
“Since opening less than four years ago, more than four thousand young people and a thousand families have come to get help from Foundry Kelowna and the numerous partners who provide services there. What we’ve learned when talking to young people about their mental health is that there are still barriers to getting help,” said Shelagh Turner, CEO of CMHA Kelowna. “With this wellness on wheels service, we are eliminating geographic obstacles to care by bringing help and support to young people in communities throughout the Central Okanagan. It amazes me how the community has come together for this project. Their generosity is truly what made it possible.”
Young people actively working with Foundry Kelowna, as well as youth living in the communities where the mobile unit will operate, played a key role in the determination of the kinds of services provided.
“Wellness on wheels is a resource that is meant to increase accessibility to all the youth that struggle to find a way to come to Foundry Kelowna whether that’s because of transportation or anxiety,” said Anansha Gounder, Foundry Kelowna Peer Supporter and Youth Advisory and Action Committee lead. “I am so excited for this service to be in the community and help young people get the help they truly deserve! Wellness on wheels is going to benefit youth so much!”
Steve Mathias, Executive Director, Foundry BC:
“Whether it’s because of transportation or financial challenges, or perhaps barriers due to stigma, there are youth who are not able to get to the help they need in our province. Finding the right supports should not be a difficult endeavour for our young people. Like our new virtual services, Foundry Kelowna’s wellness on wheels service addresses gaps and eliminates barriers so that youth in the Central Okanagan can get help more easily and thrive.”
We are immensely grateful for the generous community support that helped make Foundry Kelowna’s Wellness on Wheels service a reality. This first of it’s kind in BC, youth mobile mental health unit would not have been possible without the support of a Province of BC Capital Gaming grant a private donor to the Foundry network and local corporate, individual and special event donors. Thank you!