Okanagan mother shares necessity of youth treatment centre

Kimberly Christianson is speaking up after she lost her daughter to an overdose

A Kelowna mother is sharing her story in order to raise awareness on how great the need is for a youth recovery centre in the Okanagan.

Kimberly Christianson lost her daughter Chelsea to an overdose. She said her daughter passed away while she was waiting to get into a treatment centre three and a half years ago.

“I strongly believe in this centre, especially for youth. I think youth need specialized treatment,” she said.

“They need people who understand how to speak to youth and how to get to the core issues and not just focus on the drug use, but what led to the drug use.”

Now, Christianson is sharing her story through The Bridge Youth and Family Services in the hopes it will resonate within the community and encourage more people to get behind the non-profit’s project.

“Supporting our youth is so important. We need to show youth that they’re valued and cared for.”

“Early intervention is what we need to prevent future issues, to prevent these long-term consequences of untreated illness,” she added.

The Bridge’s executive director Celine Thompson said they’re nearly finished with Phase 1 of the project and they’re hoping that they can open the recovery house’s doors within a year.

The treatment centre will be a six-bed facility for young people under the age of 19.

“We’ve had such incredible support from the community. Our quest now is really two things: one is money. We need the funds to be able to open the doors,” Thompson said.

“The other thing is we really need our partners to spread awareness. When people know about the story and know how compelling it is, it builds strong community support.”

The Bridge Youth and Family Services has opened four new youth detox beds in Kelowna, for people under the age of 18.

The project started two short years ago but with overdose deaths continually increasing, the treatment centre can’t come fast enough, Thompson said.

“There’s an incredible degree of risk in this community for our young people. We’re losing many people to overdose and even for those who don’t pass away, the struggles that they’re going through are profound,” she said.

“Without a live-in treatment centre that has that specialist skill, they’re either getting lost on our streets or we’re sending them away outside of this community to get their health needs met.”

Christianson said she hopes more members of the Central Okanagan community gets behind the project.

“I don’t want other families and youth to go through what we went through and for youth to not have the opportunity to get better,” she said.

“My daughter Chelsea passed away on the waitlist. She wanted help and it just wasn’t available to her so she never got the chance, but I want other young people to have that chance to heal.”

For more information on the Bridge’s youth recovery house project and to donate, visit youthrecoveryhouse.ca.

READ: Kelowna myaor joins fundraiser for youth addiction treatment


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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