We opened the Synergy Services Homeless Youth Campus in early 2010, and in our first year provided emergency shelter for 538 youth with 6205 nights of care, almost double the number served in our former location. In addition to expanding our capacity for shelter, the Youth Resiliency Center provided the community’s most vulnerable young people with an ongoing opportunity to connect to a caring and supportive community as well as the ability to develop resiliency, a dynamic process wherein individuals display positive adaptation despite experiences of significant adversity or trauma.
The onsite Youth Clinic, a program of the Youth Resiliency Center, provided free health care for 917 youth in 2010 even though the medical services (staffed by Children’s Mercy Hospital) and the dental services (staffed by Miles of Smiles) did not open until the second half of the year. The clinic’s mental health counseling and case management services (staffed by Synergy’s Clinical Division) worked in association with the medical and dental providers to introduce an integrated service model. In addition, at the Youth Resiliency Center young people aged 12 to 21 were able to connect and build resiliency through creative art instruction at the Blitt Family Creative Arts Center; and improve and enhance their educational success through classroom instruction, field trips, exposure to the community’s cultural and artistic resources, school credit recovery, tutoring, and financial literacy education. They were able to use the YRC’s computer lab to develop a resume and apply for employment as well as for school work and social networking. Youth also participated in a life skills curriculum that better prepared them to be healthy productive adults. Young people had fun and experienced physical development through the YRC’s Fitness Center. They learned culinary skills and healthy nutrition through the Teaching Kitchen and the campus garden, and they had the joy of learning how to play musical instruments as well as recording their music through the onsite recording studio. Every day in 2010, a growing number of our community’s most vulnerable young people experienced warmth, safety, and new hope through the YRC’s Drop-in Center where they could shower or even take a bubble bath, find good wholesome food, do their laundry, store their stuff, and connect with caring adults.