Pizzeria raises funds for youth mental health service

 In Business

Throughout the month of October, Creemore Pizza Co. is hoping to raise funds and awareness about a free online counseling service for youth.
Owner Lori Judzinski is putting her own personal spin on a fundraiser for Wellness and Emotional Support (WES) for Youth Online, a Walkerton based charity that provides free online counselling for youth ages 13-24.
The organization was founded in 2012 by Jamie and Yolanda Cameron after losing their son Wes, to suicide, and Judzinski knows the executive director, Jennifer Mulcaster, who lost her sister, a New Lowell resident, to suicide.
Having struggled with mental health herself since she was in her teens, Judzinski said she really admires what the organization is doing for youth.
“I wish there was some kind of anonymous way to get help,” she said. “As a youth having no one to talk to, this would have helped a lot, to get help sooner.
There is still a stigma, she said. In her early teens Judzinski said she was depressed and suicidal. She felt isolated. She didn’t want to talk to her parents about it because she didn’t want them to burden, or worry them.
Later in life she sought treatment, and is feeling much better but she thinks back on how having a service like WES for Youth Online would have helped to lift the stigma.
According to Children’s Mental Health Ontario, as many as 1 in 5 children and youth in Ontario will experience some form of mental health challenge, 5 out of 6 of those children and youth will not receive the treatment they require. Over the last 10 years, there has been a 72 per cent increase in emergency department visits, and a 79 per cent increase in hospitalization for children and youth seeking treatment for mental health issues in Ontario. More than 12,000 children and youth are waiting up to 18 months for mental health treatment.
WES for Youth Online makes five counselors available by e-mail or text within 24 to 48 hours.
As a way of raising funds WES for Youth Online holds a Fill the Smile Campaign. Judzinski is putting a twist on it by asking people to donate $2, $5, or $10 (or any amount) and put their mark on skulls that she has created, to fit in with her pizza shop’s brand.
To seek help or find out more, visit www.wesforyouthonline.ca and register through the encrypted, secure portal.
To donate to the Smile campaign, visit Creemore Pizza Co. at 5 Francis St. (in the plaza behind Foodland) and attend a grand opening celebration from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 17, with live music by Graham Playford. There will be a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m.

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