Plan to improve the lives of street-involved youth

CBT supports Operation Street Angel's new youth-focused plan

Photo of Wendy Bond helping youth with a focus program

Wendy Bond, Street Angel, with youth accessing the services of Operation Street Angel, which will be developing a new plan focusing on youth, supported by Columbia Basin Trust.

Street-involved youth in Cranbrook and area are the focus of a new business plan being developed by Operation Street Angel, a non-profit organization spearheaded by the Ktunaxa Nation Council. The Youth Engagement Collaboration project is being supported in part by $10,000 from Columbia Basin Trust (CBT).

Launched in fall 2010, Operation Street Angel assists Cranbrook's street-involved people by providing outreach and guidance services. Between 80 and 100 people access it each day—and about 30 per cent of these are youth.

"The Youth Engagement Collaboration project will see the Ktunaxa Nation Council and 25 other partners representing a large cross-section of services and opportunities come together to develop effective programming to promote the mental health and well-being of youth at risk, including emergency housing," said Carrie Schafer, CBT community liaison. "The goal is to increase the capacity of Operation Street Angel to respond to the needs of youth accessing its services."

"Operation Street Angel did not anticipate such a high number of youth living on the street or at very high risk of joining street-involved culture," said Shannon Girling-Hebert, manager of Health Services & Strategic Initiatives, Ktunaxa Nation Council. "It has been determined that youth-focused interventions are urgently needed to meet the needs of our young street-involved population. The Youth Engagement Collaboration project will help us identify what these interventions should be."

The plan will focus on both Cranbrook and the East Kootenay region as a whole, as many homeless youth from other communities gravitate to Cranbrook as the closest urban centre. Among others, it will identify opportunities that: empower youth and help them develop self-esteem and self-confidence; teach skills by which youth can find their purposes in life and identify goals; and open possibilities of self-expression, personal development and capacity building.

Goals include reducing anti-social behaviour, helping youth and their families access services and increasing family cohesion.

For further information on this project, please contact Debbie Whitehead, director, Social Investment Sector, Ktunaxa Nation, at 250-489-2464 or [email protected]

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