KELOWNA - With its calming colours of blue and green, and lots of natural light, the Foundry Kelowna is ready to welcome struggling youth with open arms.
The integrated youth mental health building is a part of five pilot projects around the province. The other four Foundry buildings are in Vancouver’s North Shore, Prince George, Campbell River and Abbotsford.
Described as a ‘one-stop-shop’, the Foundry is one building where social and health services are combined so young people aged 12 to 24 can receive support and care.
“This is a non-rocket science, rocket science project,” Shelagh Turner, the executive director for the Kelowna chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, says. “Right now youth struggling with mental illness have to tell their story so many times, and nothing gets resolved - it’s not user friendly.”
Turner hopes the Foundry will change that.
“We want youth to come in, tell their story once and then we do the rest of the work to make sure they get the help they need,” she says. “We don’t want this Foundry to be where only the most vulnerable go, but rather a place for everyone.”
The Foundry provides primary care, mental health and substance services, housing and employment navigators, as well as other youth support services. Equipped with a lab, medical examining rooms, multiple meeting rooms, a youth lounge and even a teaching kitchen, the building seems to have everything needed under one roof.
With 25 different partners, Turner describes the Foundry as a hub and spoke partnership, where services are connected and able to work in partnership.
One of those partners is Kelowna General Hospital.
“Our goal is to raise $2 million in partnership with KGH, and we’re almost there.”
According to Turner, this is the first time the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation has given funding to a project outside of the hospital itself.
“I have been in this industry for 25 years and nothing quite like this has come across my path before,” Jules Galloway says. She is the owner of Evolve Design and is in charge of the entire design and management of the project.
Galloway says when designing the Foundry, factors such as no over-stimulation of the senses had to be considered. Additionally, the interior is comprised of Doing it Right This Time or DIRTT walls, moveable walls made from environmentally sustainable material.
Turner says the Foundry, located at 1815 Kirschner Rd. won’t officially open until August, but will have various celebratory events leading up to that date.
“This is a new, proactive way of approaching mental health,” Turner says.
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