Park Place Lodge

The East Kootenay Foundation for Health (EKFH) and Ktunaxa Kinbasket Family and Child Services Society (KKFCSS) is preparing to launch a new Starlite campaign, aimed at bringing a youth-focused mental health care facility to the region.

The EKFH said the fundraiser has been dubbed the “Not Alone Campaign”.

The campaign has a goal of raising $1.4-million over 18 months to bring the facility into reality. The campaign will be ongoing for 18 months, but the EKFH has set an ambitious goal to raise all of the funds within six months.

Once the facility is up and running, it will be operated by the KKFCSS.

EKFH executive director Brenna Baker said the Foundry East Kootenay centre will be located in Cranbrook, but it will be available to all East Kootenay youth.

“This will be a drop-in clinic with a whole gamut of services under one roof. One of the main things will be youth mental health, so there will be counsellors on hand, there will also be physicians for primary care and there will also be help for substance use,” explained Baker. “It’s something that our communities have been lacking, we’ve lost a lot of youth over the last few years to suicide and overdose.”

Baker added that the drop-in nature of the clinic will eliminate long waiting lists by getting youth the help they need right away.

“It’s difficult times right now for youth, there’s a lot of pressure. A lot of youth have depression and anxiety, so this is going to change the way mental health is viewed and hopefully change the way mental health is viewed,” said Baker.

The campaign kicks off on November 1st, and to help launch the campaign in earnest, Sparwood local Calvin Domin will run from Sparwood to Cranbrook on the Trans-Canada trail over a 24 hour period, starting on October 31st. Domin is taking pledges through his run to put towards the campaign, and the EKFH said he has raised $5,000 so far.

“My whole goal is for more people involved and help do fundraising for the foundry, we need to raise $1.4-million for the Foundry to be operational,” said Domin. “I’m calling my little campaign the Not Alone Elk Valley Stars for Starlite. The stars are going to be 10 youth that are going to be completing the journey from the outskirts of Cranbrook to the East Kootenay Regional Hospital.”

The youth will be joining from across the Elk Valley, with participants from Elkford, Sparwood, Fernie, the Ktunaxa Nation and Jaffray.

Domin is a soccer coach in Sparwood, and he said he joined because he feels mental health services for youth are needed in the region.

“When COVID hit, soccer and school were cancelled, and I know it affected a lot of the youth in the Valley, in the East Kootenay, and all around the world. It became a passion of mine to let those kids and youth know that they are not alone and that there’s help out there,” explained Domin.

The Foundry East Kootenay facility will be open to all youth aged 12 to 24 in need of primary care, assistance with mental health or substance use.

“A lot of kids age out at 19, so they don’t have that help readily available. This goes right to the age of 24, so this will help a lot of people,” said Baker.

Donations for the campaign are accepted online, over the phone at 250-489-6481, or by mailing donations to the EKFH at 13, 24th Avenue North Cranbrook BC, V1C 3H9.

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