Bridging the Gap to Serve the Whole

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So often youth who come to seek service somewhere like YouthLink are in crisis. They come to us with an immediate need that has to be addressed, and that need becomes the focus—instead of the whole person. While food, shelter, job assistance, etc., are all critical, we realized we could be more impactful and transformative at YouthLink if we found a way to meet the holistic needs of youth.

To achieve this, YouthLink has developed an Integrative Health and Wellness Service Model, in partnership with a $200K grant from the Medica Foundation to support YouthLink’s Ignite Change
Campaign. Medica’s President and Chief Executive Officer John Naylor explains why they awarded the grant: “YouthLink understands vulnerable youth are often ‘invisible’ to established social support systems. The new Integrative Health and Wellness Service Model embeds care across all programs and services. It’s a dynamic approach designed likelihood of further trauma, providing youth with a safe and comfortable space to address their individual mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health.”

Shannon Brennan, YouthLink’s explains how this grant made it possible to put this initiative into action:

“The funding from Medica has really bolstered our capacity to respond to youth. We know young people thrive when we work with them as a “whole” person — which is why the nine aspects ofour holistic approach are included in our wellness approach: family, community, finances, nutrition and fitness, emotional health education, career, spirituality, and housing. Our approach, and the wellness wheel we developed in partnership with young people, help us integrate each aspect of wellness across our services and in conversations with youth.”

This model is woven throughout everything we do at YouthLink. From the way we deliver our services to how we redesigned our building.

“Wellness is intentionally infused into each area. As we were developing this model, we met with each department, agency-wide, to find ways we could bridge the  gap to create a culture of wellness. We even created a wellness room where youth can go to be mindful in a quiet space,” says Shannon.

Everyone at YouthLink is excited about what this model means for the youth—and the entire YouthLink community.

“A lot of young people are going through things and are afraid to ask for help. It’s going to be easier now to ask for help because of the wellness wheel that we helped create.” – Kellie, Client, 21

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