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Imagine…16-year-old Theodore lives six hours north of Vancouver, in the Cariboo region of B.C., near Williams Lake.
Intelligent and resilient, Theo is quick to offer a smile and a laugh to his friends, but the last 12 years have been a struggle. In 2008, the downturn permanently closed several local mills, and although Theo doesn’t remember it well, he knows it caused a lot of stress when both his parents lost their jobs. Stress that led to his parents often arguing, especially on days when they would plan to visit the Food Bank, and eventually, to a divorce.
By Theo’s 12th birthday, the trauma and ugliness of it all seemed mostly behind him. But then the 2018 B.C. Wildfires had hit, forcing the entire town of Williams Lake and all the surrounding areas to evacuate. Leaving his home was surreal, but driving down the highway and seeing all the burned land and fiery hotspots on both sides of the road was worse. People he knew had their houses burned down, and seeing the carnage brought Theo to tears. It was a stark reminder of how savage the fire was. Although glad to escape the smoke and danger, Theo was scared about what he would return to.
For weeks, Theo and his family lived at the Evacuation Centre in Kamloops, feeling trapped and hopeless. He had thought that returning home would right all things, but it didn’t. Being off work for so long had put his mom in a precarious financial situation, one that she wasn’t sure she could get out of.
Theo tried to put on a brave face and be “Cariboo Strong” like the bumper stickers said, but then COVID hit. Resilient as ever, he sought out the help that he knew he needed, but every door he tried seemed to be wrong. From months of waitlists to requirements that Theo didn’t quite meet, what was a boy to do?
And then, as if an answer to his question, The Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre announced that they were bringing a Foundry to Williams Lake, set to open in 2022.
Cariboo Chilcotin youth aged 12-25, like Theo, can ask for help there—mental health, sexual health, counselling and other supports will all be there in one place—and thanks to generous donors, all services will be free and easy to access.
Theo’s experiences mirror so many young people in the Cariboo region, which is why the work of the Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre is vital. With 25 percent of youth in the Cariboo region living in poverty, life has been tough for many, but help is finally going to be within reach.
Children like Theo can look forward to the coming days when they won’t feel so alone. Bring on the help…
If you want to be a donor for Foundry Cariboo Chilcotin so that youth can get the help they need, please go to ccchild.org
Donate and change a youth’s life today.
The Cariboo Chilcotin Child Development Centre provides assessments as well as education and assistance to children who require extra support in areas of physical, socio-emotional, communication and cognitive development.