Camping on rooftop: Kelowna firefighters raising funds for youth

The first Kelowna Annual Rooftop Campout takes place on the roof of the Kelowna Yacht Club to raise funds for The Bridge Youth & Family Services, a non-profit organization working on opening up a 16 bed recovery house, specifically for children and youth with substance addiction issues.

A campout on the rooftop of the Kelowna Yacht Club in the hot Okanagan sun for an entire weekend is an experience many would pass up. Nonetheless, dozens of Kelowna firefighters took up the challenge to support The Bridge Youth & Family Services.

The first Kelowna Annual Rooftop Campout began on Friday at 6 p.m. and will end Sunday at 7 p.m. Firefighters have set up several fun activities to engage the community throughout the weekend, including a Diamond Fitness Boot Camp, a Valley First Community Crew Face Painting event and a fun Kids Firefighter Challenge.

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The challenge takes place at Stuart Park and will have children running through an obstacle course similar to that found in a professional firefighter training program.

The Kelowna Professional Firefighters Charitable Association is raising funds for The Bridge Youth & Family Services because a recovery house and treatment program for children and youth battling drug addiction is needed in the Okanagan.

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Kelly Paley is the director of fund development for The Bridge and says the organization wants to open a 16 bed recovery house.

“Currently in British Columbia there are less than 50 publicly funded treatment beds for young people under the age of 24,” Paley said. “In the Okanagan, there are no beds available for kids under the age of 17, which is terrifying.  We’ve actually had kids come through our youth detox as young as 13 … but we don’t have anywhere to send them to get the long-term treatment that they need.”

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Steven Meyer is a firefighter at the Kelowna Fire Department.  He says firefighters see first-hand substance abuse and its devastating impact.

“Being first responders, we see the Opioid crisis and substance abuse, we see it every day,” Meyer said. “So, with The Bridge, they do a lot of work with the youth and if we can prevent those youth and get them straightened away and get them a healthy lifestyle before they hit the age where the addictions are getting worse, that’s our goal.”

For more information on charity or to make a donation, visit The Bridge Youth & Family Services website.

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