A youth health centre that’s been under development for more than four years is slated to open at Queens Place Emera Centre in early 2012.
“Initially, we did some focus groups at the high school and junior high to figure out what the youth wanted,” says Dr. Norah Mogan, a family physician in Liverpool and chair of the committee.
The focus groups determined youth wanted a space in town that offered recreational programs, such as yoga and other programs. Another large part of what came out was youth wanted a space in which to hang out – one belonging to them.
“Our big mandate with this is to make what the youth want,” says Dr. Mogan.
She says the idea is to engage youth so they’re making the decisions.
A committee, which was formed about a year ago, will help facilitate the youths’ wishes. The committee is comprised of various people, including those who work in health services, people from the Queens Family Resource Centre, Aboriginal Affairs, the RCMP and Victorian Order of Nurses among others.
For the past year, the committee has been meeting once a month. Dr. Mogan says before that it met every few months.
The committee is hoping the centre will offer some health services, such as mental health, addiction and nutritional services. This will be done with South Shore Health.
“One of us … will be doing things like Paps and STD testing and pregnancy testing,” says Dr. Mogan.
As well as health and recreation, the centre will also have social nights. There could be movie nights, for example.
Computers in the centre will allow youth access to the Internet.
The youth health centre has about 1,000 square feet and will include a main room and clinical room. The clinical room may be used for some of the counselling and will also have an exam table. Finally, the centre will have an area for a coordinator.
Dr. Mogan says in terms of staffing, the committee is hoping the centre has a coordinator and healthcare professional, such as nurse or nurse practitioner.
Much of the committee’s work to date has involved finding a space for the centre, determining what staffing will look like and finding money.
Members have also been discussing how to get youth connected. Dr. Mogan says one of the challenges with this is the fact there is not yet a centre.
“There’s nothing tangible yet,” she says. “In terms of the engagement, it’s been something that we haven’t wanted to do without that piece in place.”
Once the centre opens, the youth will have to make it theirs, says Dr. Mogan. They will be able to make decisions about décor, how to set things up, what to call the centre and what hours might work best.
Liverpool doesn’t have a lot of structured space for youth to hang out. There are also not a lot of youth recreational programs. This is why Liverpool needs a youth centre, says Dr. Mogan.
“I’m excited. I think this is something that’s just going to be fabulous for Queens,” she says.
She adds she’s looking forward to getting the youth involved with the project.
“I’m excited to see what they make of it,” she says.