Each year Oak Bay High’s Youth Philanthropic Initiative, a group of Grade 11 students, chooses a local organization as the recipient for a $5,000 grant.
This year the group of John Contogiorgis, Matt Graff, Hudson Board, and Alex Zhao chose the Victoria Youth Clinic Society. It’s never an easy choice for the students, but this year two of the four members went into the decision with previous experience.
“We chose the Victoria Youth Clinic Society because they had helped two of our teammates, [myself] and [Board], with some problems they were facing regarding mental health,” Contogiorgis said.
“They gave them someone to talk to and helped them find the means to get better,” Contogiorgis said. “We wanted to give back to them and raise awareness for the work they did to help our teammates.”
The non-profit Victoria Youth Clinic started in 1998 offering primary health care services such as mental health and addiction care for youth aged 12 to 24 years. The clinic has an extensive team of nurses, counsellors, psychiatrists, outreach workers, youth support workers, a parent support worker, wellness navigator and administrative staff.
“One thing that they insisted throughout our entire interview [at Victoria Youth Clinic] was how important it was to take care of your own mental health,” Contogiorgis said.
The team left with a fresh reminder, and experience, of what many people forget, which is to take care of their own mental health issues, he added.
“They showed us a bit of what it is like behind the scenes at the charity,” Contogiorgis said. “We were able to gain a deeper understanding of how they work and how much they rely on everyday donations from people around the community.
The Youth Philanthropic Initiative is a national program that provides the funds, and the purpose, for high school students who then select a social service in their community. It is a process that involves interviewing multiple organizations.
Teacher Roxanne Taggart credits the Toskan Cascale organization for their sponsorship of the program at Oak Bay High for nine years.
This year’s Oak Bay YPI grant recipient is an organization the winners highly recommend.
“They deserve a lot of praise for what they are doing and trying to achieve,” Contogiorgis said. “If you or a loved one is feeling not entirely 100 per cent, we highly suggest that you go to the Victoria Youth Clinic.”