Good nutrition fuels both our bodies and our minds. This is what the Kelowna & District Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) firmly believes and is working to enhance among the youth they support in Kelowna through their Connected by 25 Supper Club. The Supper Club is a program that supports at-risk youth (ages 16–24) in their transition to adulthood by providing knowledge, skills and community connections to successfully address issues of food insecurity and hunger.
This program has also helped participating youth become more connected to their community, discover peer support and volunteer opportunities, gain vocational skills and development, and at the foundation of all this, improve their nutrition education and food security.
The program has been active for approximately two years, assisting more than 75 youth in the Kelowna region. Valley First was proud to support the program in its initial stages with a $5,000 Community Endowment grant.
“We knew this program had huge potential to positively impact youth in Kelowna who are struggling with mental health issues,” says Seline Kutan, Executive Director of the First West Foundation.
“I was privileged to hear one participant’s story when I visited the program last fall and I would love to share it: “Angie” told me that before she came to the program, she felt alone in her struggles with her mental health issues but through the program she met and made new friends who also were going through similar issues. She went on to say that the CMHA uses a lot of art therapy in their programs but Angie said she couldn’t draw, paint or ‘carry a tune in a bucket’ but found a creative outlet in her cooking. In fact, she was passionate about it and when the Supper Club coordinators noticed her enthusiasm, they suggested she consider it as a career option and with their help, Angie is now attending Okanagan College in the introductory culinary course on a full scholarship!”
The Supper Club is a 12-week program that provides a safe and educational environment to youth that have been identified as vulnerable in their transition to adulthood. There are four clubs per year, and each club supports 15 youth in their transition.
The participants meet one day per week to prepare and share a meal together, and engage in learning and activities that focus on nutrition, food preparation and storage, financial education and community resources.
“With the addition of this program, our community has a greater capacity to serve this age group, and on an individual basis, it gives young people the knowledge, skills, abilities, and connections to encourage and help them become productive citizens,” says Mike Gawliuk, CMHA Kelowna Director of Service Delivery & Program Innovation.
For more information about Supper Club or other CMHA Kelowna programs, go to cmhakelowna.org or call 250.861.3644.
A community leader since 1956, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna Branch promotes the mental health of all and supports the resilience and recovery of people experiencing mental illness. CMHA does this through building capacity, influencing policy, developing resources and providing services. CMHA is part of one of Canada’s oldest charitable organizations, working towards a shared vision: mentally healthy people in a healthy society. CMHA shares a national vision of mentally healthy people in a healthy society. Learn more at www.cmhakelowna.org.