A new organization is helping at-risk youth and their families in rural communities across Central Alberta.The organization works with youth ages 13 and older, offering free trauma and emotional support.
Anam Rural Youth Association (ARYA) provides one-on-one support to those struggling with mental health, high conflict, divorce, parent conflict, bullying, uttering threats and the inappropriate use of social media.
It is a mobile service that will go out and meet youth and rural families seeking their service.
“Statically, when someone reaches out and receives three ‘No’s,’ they stop reaching out,” Louise Rellis, executive director at Anam Rural Youth Association.
When a family is struggling with their youth it can be hard to find the right organization to connect with to get that support, Rellis says.
ARYA will facilitates the connection with other organizations on behalf of the families.
“Instead of just giving the family the phone number to try for help themselves, we do all that. We connect them with the person within an organization that will facilitate.”
“We are eliminating barriers for the rural families,”
In doing so, families don’t have to phone around to various organizations and be told, “no” or “not right now”. ARYA is removing barriers those in the rural areas are faced with when they reach out for support.
Rellis further explains, the aim is to focus on those youth that, for example, ride the school bus in the country to and from school.
These are the youth that don’t have access to services in larger towns, according to Rellis, and ARYA aims to fill this gap.
“We also provide food and personal hygiene items as needed. We are aware of those youth that are further away from those amenities. They can’t walk to the local food bank or convenience store,” said Rellis.
She goes on to say parents or caregivers are doing the best they can but sometimes that isn’t enough for youth facing an emotional crisis. This is where ARYA can come in and assist these youth and their families.
ARYA will act as a liaison and connect rural youth with larger agencies and give referrals for youth to Family Resource Networks (FRN) that have family-orientated programs that can help.
“We help facilitate access to further support as needed, and refer them to larger organizations that have that specialized support. Filling that connection piece with the youth, “ said Rellis
The support provided is trauma-informed support, crisis intervention, psychological first aid, and just being a safety net to them in a time where they need it, Rellis says.
“While they are waiting for support we can be the safety net… If they’re needing professional support, with counselling psychologists, we can be that safety net in between, it’s helping them,” Rellis
Those needing the support provided by ARYA are often considered vulnerable, at-risk and high risk youth.
AYRA will also come out and assist youth and their families when they are experiencing a crisis and their parents or caregivers are unable to provide crisis intervention.
“What we say is we put their cap back on,” said Rellis.
“So, the youth are not acting out, they’re not being abusive, and that they’re not being vulgar.”
Rellis says parents are doing the best they can but sometimes they don’t have the education or awareness needed to properly assist a child in crisis, which is where ARYA can help.
Rellis says the organization also provides support to those who have been bullied, but they also support the bully.
“Because something was going on in their lives. It’s not fair how they are treating somebody else or bullying but we want to capture them too, and figure it out. ‘Okay, what’s going on here? How can, how can we help?’” said Rellis
Anam Rural Youth Association’s overall goal is to keep youth in Central Alberta mentally healthy so they stay on the more positive path, and discontinue risky behaviour, or adverse behaviours with their trauma-informed approach.
For more information about ARYA, find them on Facebook @anamruralyouth.
Rellis can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.