As the COVID-19 continues to progress worldwide, Portage Atlantic similarly continues to adjust its programs to provide a safe and healthy environment for its residents and staff. Acting swiftly to ensure the well-being and a sense of normalcy, mobile bunker houses were acquired and set up at a safe distance from the main residential community.

On May 13th, 2020, Portage Cassidy Lake had the pleasure of welcoming five young ladies into its therapeutic community after a 14-day induction phase. The bunker houses acted as temporary homes for these 5 girls, as well as specific staff members that were exclusively assigned to this special admissions process. Even though the new admissions are physically apart from the rest of the therapeutic community for the first 14 days, they take part in everyday activities and group therapy via videoconferencing, just like their peers.

Now equipped with a foundation of skills to help them continue their residential programming, they have left their induction program to join their peers. Here is what a couple of them had to say about their experience…

Erica, a 16-year-old from New Brunswick, found the induction program to be very helpful and comforting. Being able to virtually speak to a staff member during her pre-care phase. This was Erica’s second program and the atmosphere helped her feel calm and at ease. The entire program flew by quickly for her and made her feel better than the first time around. After developing a sense of security within the induction program, Erica expressed that she felt both nervous and excited when the time came to join the other residents in the main program. Once she met her peers however, the feeling of nervousness dissipated.

Emma, 20-years-old, felt that the first few days of the induction program went by slowly. After getting acclimated with her new surroundings, time began moving a little more quickly. For Emma, it was a time to learn about her program and establish a sense of preparedness. She enjoyed several of the activities that she was able to take part in, namely yoga, painting, walks, and her group meetings. She felt that the induction program staff were well prepared and knew what they were doing, even though it was everyone’s first induction experience and a learning curve for all. Their knowledge was a comfort to her. Once she was moved into the main program after the 14-days, getting to meet her new peers was the most exciting part.

Monique Cormier, a clinical worker at Portage Cassidy Lake for the past 6 years, is a member of the induction program staff. Because the induction program mirrors what the youth are doing in the main program, Monique expressed that the adjustment to working with the new youth in quarantine was seamless. The main point of difference is that due to the environment, there is more time for the youth to reflect and focus on themselves, even though they are busy with activities. When asked which part was most memorable as a staff on this assignment, Monique said: “it was exciting to see the girls’ group who finished their quarantine join the female community in the main program”. She also mentioned that the girls in the main program prepared a big welcome sign of for the new girls, to make them feel a little more at ease.

Portage Atlantic is grateful for the shower of support from the community during these times. The contributions that have been made to make this induction program possible, have contributed immensely to the well-being of these girls and new admissions to come.

To the donors, staff, residents, and community, thank you.

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