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YMCA begins search for Bridgewater Youth Integrated Services site

By Evan Taylor Apr 16, 2024 | 12:06 PM

The South Shore YMCA has begun it's search for a site to house the Bridgewater Integrated Youth Services centre. Photo: YMCA.

The province announced earlier this month one of seven new youth-integrated service (YIS) centres will be coming to Bridgewater, with the South Shore YMCA operating as the lead agency.

As the lead agency, they will be spearheading the search for an acceptable site, as well as helping with its operation when it’s set up.

South Shore YMCA CEO Yvonne Smith, says what they are looking for is at least 7000 square feet of space, somewhere centrally located and close to transit routes. “The idea behind YIS centres is to offer all the services youth might need like counselling, mental health support and things like that, and we want to find a location that is easily accessible to people so we can maximize its utility,” Smith said.

“We’ve already begun some preliminary work and have some ideas, but now that the announcement has made things public we can start to ramp up our search,”.

The seven sites will vary in what they offer depending on the sites selected and what they can accommodate along with what each community needs are. Some of the services commonly offered at other YIS centres elsewhere in the country include;  counselling and peer support, primary healthcare, employment and training support, and social services such as housing and income assistance support.

Smith indicated that the process is still in the early stages, and was unwilling to provide an estimate on when the YIS centre will open, however, when the province announced their rollout of YIS centres they indicated plans for the seven facilities to be operational by 2027.

Smith also wants to recognize that it isn’t just the YMCA that will be supporting the development of the local YIS centre but they are being assisted by other organizations including; John Howard Society of Nova Scotia, South Shore Sexual Health, South Shore Open Doors Association, Liz McCurdy Therapeutic Art,Compassionate Connections Therapeutic & Consulting Services, SchoolsPlus Regional Centre for Education.

Once operational Smith says the YIS will be fully funded, meaning the facility will employ at least seven full-time staff when it opens. More staff may be needed as the site is selected and a better idea of the services that will be offered is known.