Agency celebrates a decade of helping homeless, at-risk youth
The CATS clinic has been helping at-risk youth for a decade.
Calgary Adolescent Treatment Services, or CATS, has been helping street youth for a decade and is going strong.
It’s a modest looking place in the downtown core, but the CATS clinic is doing mighty things.
“It’s not a lot to look at but what happens here is incredibly important for young people who are at risk of falling through the cracks, who are at risk of falling out of the community, they come here, they have their health care looked after, they have a warm place to be, they have warm arms that embrace them, this stuff really matters,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
This is the 10th anniversary for the clinic, started by pediatrician Dr. April Elliott who believes that it’s never too late to help a kid out of a tough situation.
“When you believe in someone they do better, there's such a growth mindset for youth, that we just give them encouragement, we hear their story, we really do coach them more than anything to take care of themselves both physically, mentally and emotionally so I think we are additive,” she said. “If we can get in there and give them that trauma-informed care, if we can have that growth mindset for them, we can change the trajectory of their lives considerably.”
Dr. Elliott and Dr. Ellie Vyver are available to young people between the ages of 12 and 23 two days per week, no matter what situation the kids are in.
“A lot of the kids who come and access our services, they really come often without identification, Alberta Health Care services, so we want to offer service that is barrier-free and non judgemental so they can get the care that they need while they are trying to transition their lives into something much better,” said Adam Flegel, Wood’s Homes.
The clinic is run through Wood’s Homes downtown exit community outreach, which has been helping youth in Calgary since 1914. They see people with complex issues like addiction, mental health issues, homelessness and abuse, and don’t limit themselves to helping only youth.
“The program is designed to be 13 to 24 but we are seeing a bunch of older adults come in here just because they can see the sign, they can see what we offer and they are coming in for services,” said Flegel.
Dr. Elliott is currently writing an international paper about what she and her team are doing here in Calgary.
You can find out more about CATS on the Wood’s Homes website.