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CENTRE OFFERS LONG-TERM ADDICTION TREATMENT FOR YOUTH

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today to mark a construction milestone at British Columbia’s first long-term residential treatment centre for youth challenged by addiction.

The event at The Crossing at Keremeos was held to celebrate the completion of Ashnola Lodge, a residential building that will provide accommodation for 20 youth, along with space for programs. The first clients will start arriving in early 2009, while construction on other buildings and amenities for the 42-bed centre is on schedule for completion by May 2009.

“British Columbia offers a range of services to youth with addictions, but The Crossing at Keremeos will provide a service not yet available in this province – long-term residential treatment for drug and alcohol addiction,” said Health Services Minister George Abbott. “This centre will provide young people with a proven treatment program that can help them rebuild their lives.”

The centre is the result of collaboration between the Ministry of Health Services, Fraser Health, Interior Health and Vancouver Coastal Health, the community organizations Central City Foundation and From Grief to Action, and the program operator, Portage Program for Drug Dependencies.

“The Central City Foundation board truly welcomed the opportunity to push forward with the early completion and occupancy of the Ashnola Lodge, having long recognized the urgency of the needs of B.C. families and young people challenged by addiction,” said Central City Foundation president and CEO Jennifer Johnstone.

“We have been dreaming of this day for 10 years,” said Susie Ruttan, co-founder of From Grief to Action. “Now addicted youth of B.C. will have the benefit of Portage’s life-changing program in their home province. In this spectacular, uplifting setting, they will have the chance to restore their health, reconnect with their families and reclaim their future.”

The Crossing at Keremeos will provide treatment for up to 42 youth, aged 14-18, who will live on site for between six months to a year, depending on their needs. While at the centre, they will participate in a program developed by the Portage Program for Drug Dependencies, which features daily group therapy and regular recreation and sports activities to promote physical health and well-being. Residents will also be able to complete their high school education and receive vocational counselling.

Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health are providing $2.4 million in annual operating funding for The Crossing at Keremeos. Interior Health will provide urgent or emergent medical services required by the residents of the centre.

“Today, young people in B.C. are exposed to alcohol and drugs at an earlier age than ever, putting them at greater risk of developing addictions,” said Vancouver Coastal Health president and CEO Ida Goodreau, who represented the health authorities at the opening event. “Having a long-term residential treatment centre will be essential to reducing the health and social impacts addiction has on these young people, their families and communities.”

Central City Foundation owns the 58-acre Keremeos property and is leasing it to the health authorities at no cost. The foundation also led the $6.5-million capital campaign for construction and renovation of existing buildings and amenities on the site. Contributors to the capital campaign include the Province, with a $2-million grant, the Central City Foundation, with a $1-million contribution, private individual and corporate donors, foundations, the health authorities and the Okanagan Similkameen Regional Hospital District.

The Crossing at Keremeos was inspired by the needs identified by From Grief to Action, a non-profit society formed by the parents of drug users, which promotes recognition of drug use as a health issue. The Portage Program for Drug Dependencies is a non-profit organization based in Montreal and is a recognized leader in residential addiction treatment. It operates 17 similar residential treatment programs in 10 facilities in Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

source: BC Ministry of Health Services

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