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Civic Impact

West side youth get their own health clinic

EdgeWest Centre

Comparing needs assessments they had been working on, Planned Parenthood Toronto and the Davenport-Perth Neighbourhood and Community Health Centre (DPNCHC) came to very similar conclusions: youth in the DPNCHC neighbourhood and surrounding communities were under-served compared to the rest of the city when it came to access to health services.
Youth in the central-west neighbourhood have poorer health outcomes than those in many other parts of the city. Planned Parenthood Toronto also knew that as many as 30 per cent of the clients at its downtown location are coming from the west, though they were unsure how many of those youth weren’t coming because they were hesitant to seek help at all or were visiting in hospital emergency rooms for problems that could better be handled in a clinic.
So the two organizations have joined forces to create EdgeWest, a new drop-in clinic offering free and confidential medical, mental and sexual healthcare services in a youth-positive environment. After a soft opening last December, the clinic has expanded its hours to three days a week leading up to its official opening this week. Working with LOFT mental health services, and consulting with more than 300 young people, the agencies came up with what they hope will be a winning concept.
“We heard quite clearly that the youth wanted it to be confidential and non-judgemental,” says Sarah Hobbs-Blyth, executive director at Planned Parenthood Toronto. “Youth really want a place they can trust. At EdgeWest, youth can just as easily receive counselling for depression as they can purchase low-cost birth control, or have a common cold diagnosed. Everyone working at EdgeWest is committed to offering services that are youth positive, LGBTQ positive, sex positive, pro-choice, confidential and non-judgmental.”
That means no appointments are necessary—and no health card required either.
The clinic is in the process of setting up a youth advisory committee and plans to soon work with other partners—offering legal services, for example—to provide more options for clients. Located in a renovated DPNCHC space with its own entrance, they’ll also be turning to young people to come up with a plan about how the clinic should look.
“The space is very blank and white right now and we’re waiting for the youth voice to say what it needs to look like to give the space a better vibe,” says Hobbs-Blyth.
EdgeWest is located within at 1900 Davenport Road, and is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-8pm, and Saturdays from 10am-2pm.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sarah Hobbs-Blyth
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