The tragic death of Kipp Thompson last fall and the recent heartbreaking loss of Shilanne Stedmances have reminded us of the vulnerability of youth and the need for our community to make a greater effort to provide resources for youth at risk.
Both Kipp and Shilanne were in their early 20s, much loved and well-supported by their family and friends. But, both grappled with issues that placed them at risk of harm.
The transition from adolescence to adulthood can often be difficult. We are all trying to make some sense of meaning and belonging and those of us who are now long past those years know from experience and observation that this can be an especially vulnerable time.
Some young men and women experience traumatic events and others may begin to develop problems with issues of mental health.
There are also challenges that emerge with dependence and addiction––youth seeking what may be a destructive solace in mind-active substances. At times, all of these issues collide: trauma, mental health and substance dependence.
The Bowen Island Community Foundation has taken steps to create a fund for youth who find themselves at risk (those between the ages of 15 and 29), in the hope that we can provide forms of support that might help avoid future tragedies. Young people who are struggling––who are at risk of harm––can now apply for assistance. Counselling and psychological assessment can be made available, with the confidentiality of our support as a guarantee.
There are many different ways to request this help from the Bowen Island Community Foundation. Those who view themselves at risk may feel most comfortable in contacting a licenced counsellor or psychologist rather than contacting a member of our Youth at Risk Committee. The counsellor or psychologist can then make an application on behalf of the young person and we can provide funding for this intervention. We want to make this process of requesting support one that is easy for youth to access.
Alternatively, youth should also feel free to contact any of the current members of our committee. Confidentiality is guaranteed. We have all lived on Bowen Island for many years and feel a strong sense of commitment to this community: Lorinda Strang, executive director of The Orchard Recovery Center; Colleen O’Neil, program director of the Caring Circle; John Stiver, youth services co-ordinator for Bowen Island Municipality, and Neil Boyd, a director of Bowen Island Community Foundation.
Finally, as we approach the end of this calendar year, many of us are considering where we might best donate locally––to which Bowen Island charity. One option I’d recommend is a contribution to the Bowen Island Community Foundation and more specifically to our Youth at Risk Fund. That will be my own commitment in 2019. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.