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Portage Ontario recognizes youth in Milestone Ceremony

(ELORA, ON) Nearly fifty teens from all across the province recently had reason to celebrate during Portage Ontario’s annual Recognition Day.

Jessica, 19, moved to Portage from Owen Sound in January, enrolling in the centre’s residential substance abuse rehabilitation program. Struggling with addiction problems and suicidal thoughts, Jessica found herself needing help. “I lost my family, my job and myself,” she said. “I didn’t care about being alive. I just wanted to feel nothing and forget my past.”

Struggling with a difficult addiction to fentanyl, Madison moved to Portage from St. Catharines last November, enrolling in the same program. She found herself battling multiple issues. “I was struggling with dishonesty, and was running away from my problems.”

Both Jessica and Madison, along with a group of their peers, celebrated the significant milestone of having completed the Portage residential program at the ceremony, which took place at the Portage facility in Elora on September 28th. “Portage is a truly amazing place, as long as [youth] are willing to give it a chance,” said Jessica, when asked about how Portage has changed her. “No one will give up on you, and loves you for who you are.”

Emily, 19, moved to Portage from Sarnia in January. She echoed those sentiments. “Portage didn’t just change my life – it saved my life,” says Emily. “I now have confidence and empathy, and I can understand myself and others.” She added that both her family life and education are back on track.

Recognition Day is a special day for Portage alumni and for family members whose lives have been impacted by addiction. Surrounded by family, friends and peers, 49 Portage program alumni from across Ontario were recognized for achieving various milestones over the past year.

“We look forward to this annual Recognition ceremony,” said Michael Howlett, Chairman of Portage Ontario. “There is nothing more important than recognizing how far these teens have come, and it’s heartwarming to see them return to celebrate their accomplishments as well as those of their peers. Their personal successes are truly inspiring and they make every one of us extremely proud.”

Portage offers a unique approach to youth addiction rehabilitation. Using a model that incorporates individual case management, self-help and positive peer influence, the program fosters personal growth and transformation. With peer support and mentoring, youth gain self-esteem and develop the transferable life skills they need to get their lives back on track and succeed at home, in school and in their community.