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Saskatoon youth use lived experience to help design new group home

EGADZ, a Saskatoon non-profit, opened Garden of Hope on Friday. (Chad Hills / CTV News) EGADZ, a Saskatoon non-profit, opened Garden of Hope on Friday. (Chad Hills / CTV News)
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A young woman has used her lived experience to help design Saskatoon’s second mental health group home.

EGADZ, a Saskatoon non-profit, opened Garden of Hope on Friday. The group home aims to offer mental health supports for youth aged 12 to 18.

EGADZ said it partnered with the Saskatchewan Government and the Saskatchewan Health Authority to create an eight bed space that will offer supports to help reduce self-harming behaviours, suicide attempts and hospital visits.

The government said it has committed about $1.05 million to Garden of Hope.

Vinny Moccasin, EGADZ youth committee co-chair, said she has lived in a group home for about two years and is excited to use that experience to help others.

“I really wanted to join, because it’s a great opportunity,” she said.

Moccasin said the youth committee focused on making Garden of Hope feel like a home.

“A lot of the youth feel like some staff would power over them because of their job, and a few felt like [they] didn’t have an actual home,” she said.

She said they also redesigned intake forms.

“We looked them over and added things that we thought were missing,” she said.

Moccasin said the additional information would be helpful for youth trying to move.

“Personally, I didn’t know my doctor so I had to get a new one,” she said.

She said the committee is advocating for some policy changes.

Don Meikle, EGADZ executive director, said the committee helped lay the groundwork for the group home.

“It is a true home that is for youth, by youth,” he said.

Meikle said eight young people will move into the home next week.

"We need to help people at this age, our young people, because we got to help them break the cycle and show them that they're worth something," he said.

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