Support Group for the Georgian Bay Treament Centre
Overview:We are: a group of local social activist volunteers who want to address the growing concern of youth addictions and the underlying causes of family dysfunction, unemployment, health and lack of education in the southern Georgian Bay region. We have applied for and received charitable status from the Canada Revenue Agency.
Our vision is: a rural treatment centre of 50-100 acres - a residential rehabilitation unit with medical and counselling support, for 20 - 25 at-risk youth at any one time. The program would primarily be aimed at vulnerable local youth who are at a high-risk level of homelessness or running away due to drug or alcohol addictions. By removing youth from their at-risk environment and moving them to a rural setting there is a much better chance of directly focusing on and targeting their issues before they become entrenched. Housing, education, medical and counselling support would be part of the program. Equine therapy would be a primary focus, as well as employment in on-site rural and farming jobs, such as raising chickens, growing vegetables and plants for sale at local farmers' markets, etc. Taking responsibility for animals, making positive contributions, and learning useful life skills is intended to be part of the therapy.
So far we've: researched a basic needs analysis with community leaders and institutions, funded by a Trillium Fund grant, and raised considerable interest in the proposed treatment centre in the local press and with several municipal governments. We're also looking for potential locations.
The Bigger Picture: Our aim is to create momentum and awareness to allow permanent public sector funding - this targeted investment should reduce social costs in our healthcare and correctional systems, but more importantly, our vision is that the lives of at-risk youth would be saved.
The Smaller Picture: We'd like Aviva to boost the project with an enthusiastic and energetic support group of two to three young people, possibly recent post-secondary graduates looking for meaningful work experience. This group would need an office in the community equipped with telephone, computer and other basic equipment, plus salaries and benefits for up to a year. They would do much of the legwork for the needs analysis project, such as communicating with local teachers, social workers, police, ministers, etc., collecting and organizing data, while under the supervision of the volunteer board of the treatment centre. A standard survey instrument has been prepared.
This Georgian Bay Treatment Centre proposal has been very positively received by local municipalities, and our volunteer group hopes to be the catalyst that moves this project to the next level and makes a real difference and contribution to our community.