Natasha Sawyer talked about how social services helped her change her life for the better during the grand opening of Foundry Ridge Meadows on Thursday. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

Foundry Ridge Meadows now fully open

New premises offers one-stop shop for kids

Under bright lights and teal-blue accent colours, Foundry Ridge Meadows opened officially Thursday to give youth quick help before small problems become big ones.

The renovated restaurant on Lougheed Highway and 116th Avenue in Maple Ridge offers one-stop mental health, medical and substance-abuse counselling as well as social services and employment programs on a walk-in basis to anyone between 12 and 24 years old.

“You walk in that door, this is a place that’s full of warmth, it’s a place that’s full of support… and it’s a place that’s full of hope,” and a beacon for youth in the area, said Judy Darcy, minister of mental health and addictions.

“Foundry is life changing for many young people in our province,” she added.

The building features a demonstration kitchen, lounges, counselling rooms, an exam room, and a reception area.

“The Foundry model, I think, is a game changer for the community,” added Vicki Kipps, executive-director, of Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services.

Foundry Ridge Meadows began in 2015 as the Youth Wellness Centre, led by the Ridge Meadows Division of Family Practice, then evolved into the provincewide, Foundry program.

“That vision of the youth wellness centre beautifully aligned to the Foundry vision doing integrated care for young people,” Kipps said.

Ron Antalek was involved with the creation of the Youth Wellness Centre which used to operate out of the Greg Moore Youth Centre. “It’s been a long haul,” he said.

Names of those who were initially involved are on the wall of the new centre.

READ MORE: B.C. program to help kids coming to Maple Ridge

There are now nine Foundry centres around B.C. with a total of 19 locations planned across the province, Darcy added. The province has also launched child and youth mental health teams in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district and in Comox, that give immediate care, Darcy added.

About $12 million has been spent on mental health support in schools while there’s a support line for students at universities and colleges, “because we know how important it is that we catch small problems before they become big problems,” Darcy said.

READ MORE: Youth Wellness Centre helping kids on a shoestring

Finance Minister Carole James said it’s frustrating to be referred to multiple agencies when families need help, noting that her son struggled with addiction when he was a teen. “I know the frustration that he felt … to be told that you go through this door and then find out it wasn’t the right door and you’re left having to start again.”

Renovations to the building cost $1.4 million and received two grants totalling $650,000. Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Community Services and the Ridge Meadows Hospital Foundation and local groups and individuals raised the balance.

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Waiting area at Foundry Ridge Meadows. (Colleen Flanagan-THE NEWS)

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