Wow… 2021. As we come to a close on another year full of the unexpected, we want to take the time to reflect on its successes and challenges. We must recognize Fernie’s frontline staff and how they went above and beyond to care beyond reason no matter what.

With a population of young people surrounded by those committed to misunderstanding them, it is our job to recognize and see them for all they can be. We aspired to inspire in a year of hopelessness and fear for what will come next. Because of committed staff, Fernie Youth Services remained a constant and consistent light in dark times. 

The Island Road Open Custody team remained consistently motivated to transform young lives despite dips in the number of residents. Our on-site teacher, Cheryl, continued to engage with the youth, encouraging them towards their high school diploma and self-confidence.

At the Transition House, we were challenged by complicated cases and continuous changes to covid restrictions. Still, we continued to see youth graduate, move into their new homes, or re-engage positively with their families. Because of limitations in the community, this team even created an at-home gym space for young men to stay healthy and active, no matter the restrictions.

In the community services and reintegration programs, the number of participants quickly increased as everyone became desperate for youth engagement, and our compassionate team rose to the challenge. By adapting to virtual counselling and meeting youth in the community, our team supported over 100 young people on their journeys to community reintegration. We worked hard to get creative and provide the best services for youth – because that is what they deserve, and that is what we are committed to offering.

One team specifically stood out, overcoming every challenge and surpassing expectations: Nolan Broome, Ben Gillespie, and the Fernie Works team.

Nolan and Ben persevered despite running a department that sometimes could not have participants due to pandemic restrictions. Nolan spent downtime developing programming and building community partnerships to better the opportunities for youth once restrictions lifted. In 2021, Nolan and Ben created a full-time Monday to Friday schedule that empowers youth while serving our community. Despite hurdles, they continue to build a meaningful employment program where participants can learn workplace skills that translate into life skills.

Through patience, compassion, and empathy, each team member supports youth in developing the skills necessary to become contributing members of society. 

We look forward to 2022, learning and growing and becoming the best we can be for our youth. 

Written by Brittany Schaump

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