By Jenn Watt
Published May 29 2018
Youth wellness hub organizers have selected a building in downtown Haliburton to create space for young people in the community.
On Thursday May 24 Stephanie MacLaren VP of community programs for Haliburton Highlands Health Services told the HHHS board that the group had put an offer on the Lighthouse Pentecostal Church on Dysart Avenue in Haliburton.
She called the space a “stepping stone” in order to get the youth hub off the ground quickly and said there’s already been plenty of engagement from young people on how the space should look and what it should include.
“After much input and support from local youth – the location on Dysart Ave proved to be a solid and viable option. The closing date is July 31 2018 and much collaborative work will take place in the meantime to plan for renovations and such” MacLaren wrote in an email to the paper following the meeting.
Earlier this month Point in Time Centre for Children Youth and Parents made an announcement to the community that funding had been secured from the Ministry of Child and Youth Services however the amount was not yet known. Point in Time and HHHS are co-leads on the project.
At that announcement many teenagers joined in the conversation. They said that a space outside of the school where they could get together would help alleviate boredom isolation and improve mental health.
At the Thursday board meeting MacLaren was joined by Point in Time staff members and a high school student named Joey who has been involved in the planning process.
“At the high school we have a group of kids right now it’s called Youth Engagement. We meet up with [Point in Time staff members] Lindsay and Mary and sometimes some other people from Point in Time and we talk about what the youth needs in the high school or in Haliburton in general” Joey explained to the board.
“The youth wellness hub was one of the best things that we could have had happen to us I think. Basically everyone I can think of like all of my friends and a lot of people in the high school and other youth are saying this is something we really need. We just need something that will bring us all together bring all of the services together.”
MacLaren showed a short film made by teenager Rowan Tofflemire in which he interviews young people about what they think Haliburton County needs. Overwhelmingly those he recorded said there wasn’t anywhere to go and that they needed a place to hang out.
The church will need accessibility upgrades she said.
There was mention at the board meeting of a capital build in the future to create a larger space for the hub. Following the meeting MacLaren told the paper the group is still in preliminary planning stages.
“What is important in this sentiment is that the groundswell of support that has been garnered from the community is showing us that the first step of repurposing the church space may very well be just that – a first step. There is so much potential and many options on the horizon as we mature into the model of a Youth Wellness Hub” she said.
Asked about specifics on the hub’s hours MacLaren said without knowing the precise funding amount she could only speculate but said she hoped it would be open after school throughout the school year and some time on the weekend.