Star Moraff, left, and Emma Epp are Parkland Secondary School students who are helping get the word out to their peers about the Peninsula Youth Health Clinic, a free, confidential space for youth 12 to 24. (Steven Heywood/News staff)

Sidney’s youth health clinic gets a longer lease on life

Community support - and use - keeps growing among local youth

A youth clinic in Sidney is being extended a few more months as the numbers of people using it keep going up.

The Peninsula Youth Health Clinic, being run out of the Ocean Pier Medical Centre on Beacon Avenue, had already been extended an extra month after running throughout June and July. Now, it’s been extended into September and October at least — with the hope that it could go one even longer.

Jen Harrison, youth and Family Engagement Coordinator with the South Island Division of Family Practice, says after a slow start, there have been an average of eight youth between the ages of 12 and 24 coming to the after-hours clinic — reaching a high of 14 people in one two-hour opening. She credits that to the youth who are volunteering with the clinic, getting the word out to their peers.

The clinic is a place where youth, who might not otherwise see their family’s doctor, can ask a physician and counselors about a variety of issues in a free and confidential setting. The clinic focuses mainly on sexual, mental and physical health and is also a place where youth can obtain free birth control, get a pregnancy test and be tested for sexually transmitted infections. The doctors there can also help with sports injuries.

Harrison said the fact that so many youth have come to the clinic while school was not in session is a good indication that the service they are providing is needed in the community. Now that students have returned to class, she said the young volunteers with the clinic will be potentially reaching more of their peers with information about what the clinic offers.

Since opening, Harrison said there has been a lot more support coming from other areas of the community. She has shared information about it with local police, doctors, parents’ groups and local First Nations. She said they’ve had local politicians visit to see what they are about and the word has spread to other physicians as well.

Maria Lesperance is in her residency after finished four years of medical school at the University of B.C. She says she’d heard about the clinic and wanted to help, as she has an interest in the area of youth health. She has joined Dr. Kate Evans, working at the two-hour clinics. They have also been joined by a drug and alcohol counselor, who also wanted to volunteer their time, as well as an elder from a local First Nations community.

With all this support, Harrison said their challenge now is to try to make the clinic sustainable for the long term.

“We are inviting anyone who wants to be involved,” she said.

Harrison said the clinic is, basically, a safe place for youth to get advice and help they need. It’s open every Thursday evening between 6 and 8 p.m. People can call for appointments between 5 and 6 p.m.

For more information, call or text 250-216-8389. The clinic is located at the offices of the Ocean Pier Medical Centre, #207 – 2537 Beacon Avenue in Sidney.