KGH Foundation Kiwanis Legacy Fund grants $75,000 to Upstream Kelowna
Money will go towards providing free and accessible school-based mental health support services with the aim of preventing school disengagement and youth homelessness in the long-term.
(Kelowna, BC – June 3, 2022) – Upstream Kelowna, led by BGC-Okanagan, received a $75,000 grant from the KGH Foundation Kiwanis Legacy Fund Committee.
The purpose of this fund is to improve the health and wellness of children and youth in the Central Okanagan. This year, the fund aims to specifically target the area of mental health.
“Our mission is more important than ever, as the pandemic has brought another year of isolation, reduction in social interactions and additional challenges for youth to seek help,” said Wendy Falkowski, Kiwanis Legacy Fund Committee Chair.
Upstream Kelowna is a school-based prevention and early intervention program that was launched in February 2021 – with the implementation of the first assessment launched April 2021. Through community collaboration, Upstream Kelowna provides supports, through school-based coordinated access to services before crisis hits. The aim is to build resiliency and overall well-being in the lives of students and their families and to prevent school disengagement and youth homelessness in the long-term.
“In discussions with our community partners, we understand preventative models of care and service delivery are key to addressing the overall mental health and wellness of our youth,” said Melina Moran, Director of Grants with the KGH Foundation.
Upstream Kelowna presents a universal Student Needs Assessment to uncovers hidden barriers to resilience in Grade 8 students Upstream support persons, comprised of experienced system navigators from partner agencies, then conduct check-in interviews with each student to assess their needs and offer co-ordinated access to the most appropriate supports. A collaborative of youth and family serving agencies (including BGC Okanagan, Central Okanagan School District, Ki-Low-Na Friendship Society, ARC Programs, The Bridge Youth & Family Services and Foundry Kelowna) provides wrap-around support services based on their goals and needs. Schools and services work together to achieve their goals. Over 25 additional youth and family serving agencies supported Upstream Kelowna referrals in 2021 – showing the collective efforts of the community to support young people and their families through early intervention practices.
“BGC Okanagan is very grateful to the KGH Foundation and the Kelowna Kiwanis Legacy Fund Committee for their support. It takes a community in order for an initiative like Upstream Kelowna to be successful and we are thankful collaborative efforts of the youth and family serving agencies that give us the ability to make real-time, significant positive impacts,” said BGC Okanagan CEO, Jeremy Welder.
According to a 2021 Impact Report, following their first year of utilizing the universal Student Needs Assessment, Upstream Kelowna reports;
- In just one year, they have created capacity to provide accessible, co-ordinated support for approximately 51 students/families after implementing assessments to students at KLO Middle School and Springvalley Middle School.
- 54 per cent reported an increased sense of belonging, safety and/or security.
- 43 per cent reported improvement to anxiety – inside and outside of school.
- The trends and gaps identified through the assessment included a need for increased access to mental health professionals/services, increased access to family support and mediation, increased access to 2SLGBTQ+ support services and peer mentorship, and increased attention to the impact of parental separation/divorce on youth and families.
”KGH funding has made it possible for Upstream Kelowna to meet the identified gaps in the 2022 implementation of the project. The funding provided support for Upstream Kelowna to hire additional support persons, peer mentors and 2SLGBTQ+ lived experienced workers to provide direct support for Upstream referrals,” said Philippa Putlitz, Upstream Kelowna Coordinator.
Success stories: (Names changed to protect privacy)
- Dale stopped attending school for several months and was held up in their bed. Upstream joined their school team to meet with them at home. They were connected back with their school with a slow return to classes and connected with mental health services. Today, they are back at school full-time.
- Kris engaged with unhealthy peer relationships, was disengaged from classes, and their family struggled to keep them home. Soon, they were couch-hopping. Upstream mediated family conflict provided parenting support, youth-mentorship, access to counselling, and an adjusted school schedule. Today, housing is stabilized for Kris, their attendance has increased, and they continue to access school-based counselling support services.
- Pat experienced the loss of a parent in a tragedy prior to Upstream identifying them in 2021. Pat shared that they never received support to help them heal or grieve. They were struggling to pay attention in school and began using cannabis to cope with their emotions. Upstream connected Pat with grief/loss counselling and their school was made aware of their pain. Today, Pat reports overall improvement to their health and well-being.
- Upstream Kelowna was engaging with a youth who recently immigrated with their family. The family was struggling to keep their children engaged in school. Upstream focused on both the family as a unit and the child at-risk. The family was connected with a local food bank, which provided them with weekly food hampers and monthly clothing vouchers. They also assisted the family with getting extra subsidies to help them afford their rent. Upstream Kelowna worked with community supporters to connect and fund the children’s extracurricular activities to support the building of resiliency and the financial stability of their home.
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