A new program to assist youth has been started by two local women and launched on May 4.
Sylvan Lake town councillor and restaurant owner Kjeryn Dakin and Real Country 95.5’s Randi Chase started the program, called The Yellow Butterfly program to show that they have support in the community.
“We created this program with at-risk youth in mind. We felt that struggling youth were a group that was very underrepresented, and we wanted to find a way to let youth know that their community cares,” Chase said.
Specifically, the program will be incorporated in restaurants encouraging youth to seek assistance for mental health issues after it was piloted in Bukz over the past year.
“There aren’t a lot of public spaces that are open and welcoming for youth who are having a hard time. We want restaurants in different communities to let our youth know, that they are there for them.”
Restaurants in Alberta that answer the call to join the program will place a yellow butterfly in their window, Chase said.
“The yellow butterfly signals to at-risk youth they are welcome in the establishment without judgement.”
There are also other things restaurants need to do as part of the program, she said.
“Restaurants will also be agreeing to provide struggling youth with fries, a pop and a place to sit and eat. All restaurants who join will offer ‘ButterFries’ on their menus. If a youth orders them this will indicate to a server that they are potentially dealing with an at-risk youth that may ask for help.”
Youths who ask for assistance will be directed to the manager who will connect the youth with the proper resources in their community.
“All managers will be provided with the proper orientation from us to do this,” Chase said.
Over the past year of piloting the program at Bukz, some youth have been able to be connected to the proper resources through it.
“We believe that by showing our youth we care, they will feel supported. Support makes all the difference when someone is feeling low. Suicide is the leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 19 and we want to prevent this.”
Restaurants can fill in the gap, Chase said.
“Whether it’s an hour that a teen might need for themselves to sit, eat and decompress they will hopefully have the comfort of knowing they have a meal and a place they can have refuge in. They also will know that if they need help, a yellow butterfly restaurant has their back.”