A drop-in program for teen girls takes place every Friday night at Acwsalcta School. (Photo submitted)

A drop-in program for teen girls takes place every Friday night at Acwsalcta School. (Photo submitted)

Bella Coola Valley girls drop-in program runs Fridays

A safe space drop-in program, it is open for females age 14 to 18

A group of women in the Bella Coola Valley has resurrected a drop-in program for girls at risk on Friday evenings at the Acwsalcta School.

“It’s open to all female youth in the valley between 14 to 18 years,” said Kirsten Anne Boulier, a trauma therapist at Acwsalcta School, noting the program takes place in the alternative education room and traditional food rooms where there are couches and tables.

Previously the program ran for about eight years solely led by Kayce Scott, who Boulier described as a “super human being” who works for the Bella Coola Community Support Society.

“She put it on for some clients who were looking for a safe place to connect with other people who were looking for wellness and sobriety,” Boulier said of Scott’s efforts.

Through the pandemic, there have been lots of barriers to wellness and Boulier noted she and others have noticed a prevalence of substance use and youth wanting options to try being well and sober.

“We are trying to provide connections that support that. We are trying to fill a need in that way.”

The program kicked off Friday, March 4.

When participants arrive they are greeted with a prepared meal that is served anytime between 6 and 10 p.m.

There are options to do different activities and the program is a collaboration with the youth who are attending.

“We can paint nails, bake, watch movies, listen to music, do karaoke or colour, what ever it might be. It’s their program and it’s what they make out of it.”

Boulier described the group putting on the program as a grassroots collaborative between several community agencies.

“There are a bunch of Acwsalcta staff that are involved. We also have a woman from Vancouver Coastal Health participating and a couple people from Nuxalk Nation wellness program and Kayce from the Bella Coola Community Support Society.”

In coming together to create a safe space for other women, the group is aiming to create a sustainable framework for funding so the youth can depend on the program for years to come.

When asked what the meal was on the first Friday she chuckled loudly.

“I decided to make Sante Fe Beans and Rice with a side salad because I wanted to have a vegetarian option for the first night so that everyone felt like everyone was included,” she responded. “But I got some feedback that not everyone like beans so I think our next meal will be fettuccine.”

Bella Coola