A lake visit involving youth who live at SOS Children’s Village B.C. (submitted photo)

A lake visit involving youth who live at SOS Children’s Village B.C. (submitted photo)

Grant helps Surrey foster-care youth cope with mental-health challenges of pandemic

‘These youth have been under COVID-19 restrictions for a long 17 months, resulting in a state of precarious mental health and great need’

A $5,000 grant from Envision Financial will help SOS Children’s Village B.C. support Surrey-area youth.

The money will benefit youth in care, or aging out of care, at the “village” in Surrey and in the greater community, through a series of summer mental-health retreats.

“These youth have been under COVID-19 restrictions for a long 17 months, resulting in a state of precarious mental health and great need,” a news release says.

Kistie Singh, executive director of SOS Children’s Village B.C., thanks the financial cooperative for its “incredible support of our charity’s work with youth in the community.

“We are now at a point where we can readily respond to the increase in mental wellness needs and give youth strategies to develop skills that will keep them healthy for their lifetime,” Singh said.

SOS Children’s Village BC is part of SOS Children’s Villages, considered the largest non-governmental, non-denominational child development organization in the world.

SOS Children’s Villages has existed for 70 years with a presence in 136 countries and 559 Villages, including the one in Surrey.

Locally, SOS Children’s Village BC was founded in 1986 as “a grassroots response to deficiencies in the provincial foster care system characterized by frequent placement breakdowns and moves for children and youth, and the separation of siblings into different homes,” according to a post on sosbc.org.

“Even today, the state of foster care remains a ‘North American epidemic,’ as described by local former foster child Tom Watson.”

Video posted to the organization’s YouTube channel shows the Surrey Village and its five homes. The location is not revealed.

“It is a Village by name but for the foster children and parents who live here, it is simply referred to as home,” a website post explains. “The lush green trees almost exceed climbing heights for the children. Almost! Squirrels run, rabbits will hop in to say hello, and the only sound drowning out the birds are the kids … and that is most heartwarming sound of all. And then of course there’s the healthy competition on the sports court. The kids are out there at every opportunity. Even in the middle of winter they’ll be out there shooting hoops.

“But more than the five big, beautiful homes and the picturesque setting, the Village represents a unique model of healing. It functions to provide some of the very things that these children have lost. The Village provides a sense of community, connection and belonging, in a system where isolation is all too frequent. This Village shouts to kids in foster care,’You Matter!’”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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COVID-19Foster caremental health