Blackfalds woman forms non-profit to help at risk, vulnerable youth

Louise Rellis formed non-profit Anam (On-um) Rural Youth Association to help at risk and vulnerable youth. Rellis gave a presentation to the Town of Blackfalds on March 15 during a Zoom meeting.

BLACKFALDS – Blackfalds resident Louise Rellis’ passion is helping youth and she founded a non-profit organization to help vulnerable at-risk youth.

Rellis told the Town of Blackfalds, during its virtual standing committee meeting March 15, that vulnerable, at risk, and high-risk youth who are being referred to a support or resource outside the community, or in an urban setting, aren’t accessing those supports. To fill this gap she launched Anam (On-um) Rural Youth Association.

“Anam was founded to bridge those gaps, to bring the support needed to those vulnerable youth, where they are in their own community and/or to enable the facilitation of accessing support in an urban setting if required.”

Anam will focus on helping youth aged 13 to 18 and will help youth who are experiencing struggles with mental health, high conflict divorce, bullying and harassment/threats.

“In seeing an increasing trend of disconnection and gaps vulnerable youth and their families in Blackfalds were experiencing when it came to accessing support I started to have community conversations on how to fill those gaps,” said Rellis. “Those conversations grew to neighbouring communities as I learned this was a larger concern than initially thought.”

Rellis said she conducted research with the RCMP, school resource officers, school social workers and school divisions.

“The trends are the same across the board,” said Rellis.

“Vulnerable youth are the product of their circumstances through no fault of their own and are often left to navigate life without having the developmental capacity to do so and without having healthy caregivers in the capacity to guide them,” she said.

“Our mission is to empower vulnerable youth through education and healthy relationships to realize their true potential with the confidence to accept that the limitations of others’ capacity does not predict their future.”

Anam aims to provide a wrap around service where needed. This involves siblings or family members who need support and are outside of their focus group.”

Rellis said youth are often missing school because they don’t have food or hygiene products.

“Vulnerable youth in rural communities are limited with regards to their access to food and hygiene products, we aim to provide these items on an as needed basis and honour system.”

Rellis asked the town for support and to consider providing office space.

Coun. Rebecca Stendie praised Rellis’ initiative.

“I agree that our kids are struggling and that they need help and your vision of that help is exactly what we need.”

Mayor Richard Poole asked if Anam is part of a larger organization.

“We are the mother organization,” said Rellis.

He also said Anam should provide their information to the FCSS because people in the community are accustomed to going to the FCSS for help.

Rellis said Anam is partnering with Chinook school district and working towards getting Wolf Creek Public School on board as well as the RCMP.

“We are so new, we are in a smaller scale in Lacombe and Red Deer and have been asked if we can go further, towards Calgary.”

Coun. William Taylor called Anam a “noble cause,” adding “I think it’s awesome.”

Coun. Laura Svab commended Rellis on the initiative.

“You have such a big heart and I know your organization will do so well in our area and rural area,” said Coun. Svab. “We look forward to working with you.”

Anyone wanting to contact Anam can call/text Louise Rellis at 403-318-7690 or email her at louise@anamruralyouth.com

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