The BC Minister of Mental Health and Addiction was encouraged and hopeful after a visit to BC’s first residential youth treatment center with a nature-based component.
Traverse is a 20 bed treatment center in Chilliwack built adjacent to the former Travelodge to serve youth ages 13-18.
“It’s so interesting to see this happening here,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, after touring the facility with Chilliwack MPP Dan Coulter. The minister and other members of Prime Minister John Horgan’s caucus were in Chilliwack for a three-day retreat, September 22-24.
Seeing firsthand how drug treatment can be delivered in a new way has given the minister “hope,” she said, as well as ideas that can be implemented elsewhere in the world. province.
It was opened last year by Fraser Health, built by BC Housing and managed by the Pacific Community Resources Society (PCRS).
The center has been offering clinical team care to young people with problematic substance use since last September.
“The work that we’re doing across the province with Indigenous service providers and with the First Nations Health Authority is really focused on land-based healing as a way to recover from addictions,” said Malcolmson. “And seeing this idea translated right here in Chilliwack gives me hope.”
Enjoying the outdoors is “such an important part of how British Columbians experience our province,” said the Minister.
“Seeing the strength of the environment and the strength of health care delivery coming together to help people with drug addiction is very encouraging. It’s a first and I’m really happy to witness it, ”said Malcolmson.
Traverse residents can stay for up to six months while getting one-on-one counseling, recreation, and life skills training in a highly structured program. The average stay is about two and a half months.
“Traverse is one of the first of its kind because it is one of the largest facilities for young people that has both a clinical team but also an outdoor recreational component. So there’s outdoor therapy every day, ”said Steven Esau, director of operations, Fraser East, for PCRS.
There is a sports and recreation area on site, with lush lawns, lots of greenery, as well as a sports field, a walking circle, hammocks and a large gazebo on its way. Every part of the facility’s infrastructure, like the benches, faces the greenery.
“There are several thousand plants there, just for aesthetic reasons but also for the calming effect of nature,” Esau added. “There has been a lot of thinking about every part of this environment. “
Traverse residents are also transported to recreation areas like the Chilliwack Community Forest, or for a fire along the Chilliwack River to soak up the positive effects of just being in nature. Outdoor adventures can sometimes qualify for physical education classes for young people trying to complete high school.
By emphasizing nature-based treatments, young people gain insight into their relationship with nature and the healing it can bring, while working toward personal health goals.
Adolescent residents request the program across Fraser Health Region, with treatment tailored to their specific needs.
PCRS, an organization with 35 years of experience providing high-quality accredited social services in British Columbia, was retained by Fraser Health to operate Traverse. PCRS has worked closely with Fraser Health’s mental health and addictions team to meet the unique needs of each patient.
The government provided $ 3.7 million to Fraser Health to support a combination of youth treatment beds and outpatient treatment services at the specialized treatment center. BC Housing invested $ 5 million to purchase the property and build the site. The Fraser Health Authority will provide ongoing operational funding for the site.
Located at 45456 Yale Rd., The site was designed with ideas and feedback from youth and their families who have struggled with substance use. Culturally safe programming for Traverse has been developed with local Indigenous leaders, youth and communities, including cultural experiences and teachings.
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