Diane Janzen, executive director of Chilliwack Community Services, and Josh Togeretz, a youth outreach worker with Cyrus Centre, play a little foosball at the new drop-in youth centre at Main Street Church. The centre is open on Thursdays and Togeretz is among the workers who helps facilitate activities for youth. (Jessica Peters/ The Progress)

Chilliwack youth get new drop-in centre downtown

Partnership between church, Cyrus Centre and community services made centre possible

Three Chilliwack organizations have banded together to create a hub for local youth to hang out.

A new Youth Drop-In Centre is operating at Main Street Church, with the help of Chilliwack Community Services and Cyrus Centre. It’s open on Thursday afternoons from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., now until Dec. 14 this year.

The pilot project will be dedicated to providing social and recreational opportunities for youth in Chilliwack, particularly the downtown, the partners said in a press release on Friday.

“The Centre will fill a gap in Chilliwack for young people, providing a safe and caring environment where they can connect and socialize and participate in recreational and social activities,” the release said.

Youth will be able to take field trips that involve outdoor recreation, social events, and other planned activities. But the centre will also act as a connection point for youth who may need other supports in life, such as housing, food, counselling, medical services and education.

If the program is successful, it could become part of Chilliwack’s longer term, larger picture for taking care of local youth.

Supervision and programming at the centre is going to be provided by CCS and Cyrus Centre, and food will be provided. Josh Togeretz is one of the youth outreach workers who helps with the programs. He says the youth are starting to show up, and he hopes more will continue to come as word of mouth gets out into the community.

The trio of organizations say the initiative represents a new partnership between them, “based on clear research that shows the importance of attachment and connection for young people.”

“We share a commitment to the young people of our community and we believe that this centre will fill a gap and provide a safe and caring place for connection and support,” the release stated. “It is also evidence social service agencies and the faith community have a great opportunity to work together.”

This initiative is being implemented in the context of the work of the multi-agency steering group of the Chilliwack Child and Youth Committee which includes the Ministry of Children and Families, City of Chilliwack, Chilliwack Community Services, the Chilliwack Society for Community Living, Fraser Valley Aboriginal Child and Family Services Society, Cyrus Centre, Youth Unlimited, Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Chilliwack Child and Youth Committee.

It’s also being supported by the Ministry of Children and Family Development Chilliwack for their support of this project, and in-kind donations of Chilliwack Community Services and Cyrus Centre.

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