On Wednesday, the Cool Aid Society in Grande Prairie announced the impending closure of their Hillside facility, also known as the "Big Red Barn" on 92 street.

The organization has been part of the community since the 1970's and started its journey in the North Community of Hillside, before expanding to Patterson.

Their programs have had an impact on the lives of countless young individuals in the Grande Prairie area.

In a recent Facebook post, the organization stated financial challenges as one of the main reasons behind the facility closure.

"Factors such as the evolving post-COVID landscape, inflation, escalating insurance and utility costs, and a reduction in charitable giving, decrease in youth utilizing our services, and a stigma and uninformed idea of our programs and mission, have placed an overwhelming financial burden on our operations."

The team has been diligently working with funding agencies, including in various programs. Securing the necessary funding increases to match the rising fixed costs of programming, and the operating expenses of two facilities has proven elusive and unsustainable.

In the coming weeks, the organization is planning to announce a positive initiative which will launch on February 1, 2024.

"In collaboration with The Resource Centre for Suicide Prevention, we are offering an 18-week program aimed at assisting youth in various aspects, including recognizing feelings, stress management, health and wellness, and positive responses. This program will be tailored to three age groups: 5-10, 10-14, and 14-18, providing inclusive, engaging, and fun ways to relate to different age ranges. We anticipate this program to significantly contribute to Youth Mental Health Awareness, with further partnerships in the pipeline involving Youth Addiction and Mental Health for innovative speakers."

Additionally, the organization is partnering with local professionals in various trades and professions to launch a career-driven program. This initiative places heavy emphasis on career exploration, emotional well-being, financial literacy, and their effects on youth. 

The Cool Aid Society is actively seeking corporations and individuals willing to participate in their programs, encouraging more community engagement through volunteering or donations to assist with programming and operational costs.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please email director@coolaidsociety.ca

Information provided by Cool Aid Society

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