July 25, 2013 - 8:48 AM
HOW A LOCAL ADDICTIONS CENTRE IS HELPING AT-RISK YOUTH FEEL CONNECTED
KAMLOOPS – The Phoenix Centre is trying to provide to male youths in the community with a sense of belonging, specifically those affected by substance abuse.
Up to 25 young men will attend a two-day mountain bike camp where they will receive instruction in the sport as well as a bike and riding gear they can take home after the camp, but most importantly they will receive mentorship and a group to belong to long after the camp is over.
“In Kamloops, we have this incredible mountain biking community,” executive director Sian Lewis says. “Why not give them something exciting, healthy and fun to do (before they become addicted.) Something they can continue to do.”
When Lewis first floated the idea, professional rider Brett Tippie, a Kamloops native who has a history with addictions, quickly jumped on board and soon after two more professional riders (Dylan Sherrard and Mike Jones) and two professional instructors (Bodie Shandro and Brett Woods) followed suit. All five are donating their time to the camp.
The camp will take place Sept. 10-11 at Juniper Bike Ranch and while it is still seven weeks away Lewis is busy raising awareness about the camp with participants and potential sponsors.
“We're scrambling trying to get the corporate community, and the community in general, on board,” Lewis says. “We need a minimum of $20,000.... I have raised $2,040 so far.”
The funds will cover the cost of promotion, advertising, insurance, on-site first aid, food, permits and shuttle service for the participants and gear, in addition to the bikes and gear for the 25 participants.
Local bike shop Spoke 'N Motion has offered the centre a great deal on the bikes and gear and has also offered free maintenance on the bikes in the future, something Lewis says is very important to keeping the youth in the sport.
The camp is half full so far and those looking to participate need to be sponsored by an adult that has had a positive impact on their life. Participation is open to those who have battled addictions themselves or have been affected by the addictions of someone close to them.
“Yes, we do treatment, typically that's what we're funded for, but we know one of the single best ways to help people with substance abuse issues is to get to them before it becomes an issue,” Lewis says. “We need to focus on prevention, need to be putting more time and effort in engaging people beforehand.”
She also says society needs to stop waiting until people are in peril before offering help, especially youth.
“As a society we all need to get a grip – it takes a community to raise a child,” Lewis adds. “(These kids) have limited opportunities to belong to a healthy environment. If we give them access to it, they will feel good doing this.”
You can transform the life of a youth in Kamloops by donating to the program, Lewis says, and as a bonus anyone contributing a minimum of $25 is invited to take part in a celebrity ride on the morning of Sept. 10 where they can hit the trails with the professionals.
Information for participants and sponsors is available at www.phoenixcentre.org.
The Phoenix Centre provides treatment and support to more than 1,500 people with substance abuse problems every year.
To contact a reporter for this story, email email@example.com, call (250)819-3723 or tweet @JennStahn.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013