By Gabby Gladych –
In September of 2018 I started volunteering with the Action and Advisory Committee at the Saanich Peninsula Youth Health Clinic. The SPYHC provides space for our youth group to meet every Thursday night during clinic hours. In that time we come up with ways to promote the clinic, help with fundraising, and think of how we might use donations.
The clinic serves youth on the Peninsula who are searching for help with any medical questions or issues, need to speak with a youth counsellor, get an STI (sexually transmitted infection) test or pregnancy test. The clinic also sells birth control at cost, and doctors will write prescriptions. All youth from ages 12 to 24 with care cards are able to access these services.
As volunteers we try to participate in events as much as we’re able, especially when the clinic benefits from a fundraiser. For example, all funds raised by the Bed Races on Beacon (July 7), hosted by the Saanich Peninsula Hospital & Healthcare Foundation, will be donated to the youth clinic. Along with some of the other youth volunteers, I’ll be at the Bed Races selling popcorn, 50/50 tickets and doing other jobs to help make the day go smoothly and to show our gratitude for the gesture.
What I didn’t know when I began volunteering is that it’s not just the medical staff at the clinic who think it’s a formidable cause. Many organizations and donors have provided funding to keep the clinic afloat. It’s validating to see how many others believe in the value of this service and its importance here on the Saanich Peninsula. To give an example, a main source of marketing for the clinic is through local schools. They constantly make school-wide announcements concerning the clinic and they always have Help Cards on hand for students who may need the extra resources.
The Help Card was created long before I started volunteering at SPYHC. It is a small card that has over 20 phone numbers for youth to text or call in a crisis. The creation of this card took volunteers hours to put together, calling each number to investigate whether or not the resource was reliable. Many youth on the Peninsula are taken care of thanks to the dedicated youth who continue to support other youth by being at the clinic every chance they get.
We, the youth volunteers, recently won a youth group award at the 2019 Saanich Youth Awards. As a volunteer I have been trained to use a naloxone kit, learned about the importance of youth being partners with adults and above all, been educated about the need to spread accessible healthcare for youth.
The most rewarding part of this work for me is when someone I look up to says: “I wish there had been something like this when I was younger. It could have helped me.” It is then that I know I am a small part of a greater good. Youth go to the clinic for help; that’s why in my view it is so important to have this resource to turn to. At 16, I don’t have all the answers my peers may be seeking, but whether I encourage them to visit the clinic or give them a Help Card, I know there is a safe place for them.