Youth hub holds grand opening

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A downtown Chatham youth hub has officially opened the doors to its permanent location.

ACCESS Open Minds Chatham-Kent, located at 140 King St. W., provides mental health programs and referral services, designed by youth, for youth, under one roof.

Co-ordinator Rebecca Prince said programs are geared to those aged 11-25 and their families. They also don't need a referral, she added.

“They can walk in, call or e-mail,” she said, noting that staff will assist them with whatever their needs are.

ACCESS OM-CK has also received official status as a Youth Wellness Hub Ontario site, and is among the first of the 10 sites across the province.

In 2016, Everlast, led by Victor Boutin, provided the organization with donated space at the former YMCA building.

Prince said she was pleased with the renovations at the new site, conducted by JP Contractors, calling it a “unique and special place” to assist youth.

With rooms featuring various themes, she said the positive energy provides a crucial first impression to help young people feel welcome, valued and engaged.

Prince said the aim was make “each room feel more inviting,” adding that the accessible and central location will be an asset.

Kris Lukings, project manager, said the contractors treated the project as their own.

“Right from the beginning, they expressed their excitement to being part of such a hallmark program,” he said in a release. “And in several instances when we thought of cool and funky things to do, but determined it was out of budget, they were kind enough to donate labour and material themselves, just to make it look perfect.”

The Rotary Club of Chatham also presented a $20,000 cheque to the organization during the grand opening.

ACCESS Open Minds is a research network that first launched under Canada’s Strategy for Patient-Oriented Research. It is jointly funded through a partnership between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Graham Boeckh Foundation.

This $25-million research initiative is setting up and evaluating the impact of youth mental health hubs in 14 diverse communities across Canada.

The Chatham-Kent Health Alliance and the Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent established a Youth Advisory Council in 2015, which initiated the design for both the physical and virtual spaces of ACCESS OM CK.

ACCESS OM CK and YWHO will bring additional resources to the community with local partners including:

- Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent;

- Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Mental Health and Addictions Program;

- Chatham Kent Children’s Services;

- Chatham-Kent Police Service;

- Mobile HELP Team;

- Family Service Kent;

- Municipality of Chatham-Kent;

- Lambton Kent District School Board and St. Clair Catholic District School Board;

- ESC LHIN Mental Health and Addictions resource nurses providing services in primary and secondary schools.

For more information, visit ACCESS Open Minds Chatham-Kent’s official website: and





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