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How youth from the northern community of Pinehouse Lake are preventing suicide | Gordon Lake Youth R

Gordon Lake/Norbert falls 3 day Youth Retreat

Louis Iron is a 16 year old member of the Pinehouse Photography Club. "It was after my step dad's suicide I became depressed" Say's Louis. "I often was sad, didn't want to go outside...we were all sad". Soon after the tragedy, Louis discovered the Pinehouse Photography Club (PPC), a local photography club that engages youth to use photography as a form of therapy. "Learning photography really helps with my feelings" says Louis. "I met so many new people who support me and make me feel good. Taking pictures really opens my eyes to things I never saw before and I began to not feel depressed."

Supported by the Youth-led Community Health Grant program, the PPC hosted a event over the spring/summer of this year out at Gordon Lake and Norbert Falls. "We wanted just a few youth who we could spend some quality time with" Say Jon Durocher, Vice Present. "Instead, we had an outpouring of youth wanting to participate!" With the initial goal of 15 youth, the club ended up hosting over 30 youth for the 3 day outing. "We focused on photography, teaching the kids how to take pictures, and then talking about them after we were done" Says Durocher. "And something we often see is that once these kids are taking pictures, they begin to open up to one another and to the group. They start talking about their depression or anxiety".

Durocher also adds, "it was a lot of fun. Aside from photography, they camped, swam, fished, went tubing, went for hikes, played hide and go seek. They watched movies outside on a projection screen. It was a really rewarding experience for us all!"

The Youth-led Community Health Grant program from the Saskatchewan Prevention Institute sponsored the photography club $2000 for this event. "Without those funds, we wouldn't have been able to put on this event for the kids" Mallory Lariviere, program director. "We couldn't believe how many youth wanted to participate in photography and this event" says Lariviere. "Using photography helps the kids start the conversation about mental health and about their feelings".

The non-profit organization hosted the event and included a focus on healthy lifestyles. Dre Erwin, President says"we wanted to have a balance of fun for the kids, but also take the opportunity to do some teaching". Along with a list of activities, the youth were presented with discussions about addictions and mental health. "Often photography helps the youth communicate. It gives them an outlet to express themselves which in turn, opens up the door for further dialogue", say Erwin.

Morgan Tinker, youth and volunteer at the event says the experience was just a lot of fun. "Everyone was happy and laughing and we did so many activities. No one wanted to leave", says Tinker.

The Pinehouse Photography Club focuses on using photography as an outlet for youth to express their emotions and feelings, without even saying a word. Often youth who are high risk for mental health problems and/or addictions begin opening up about their thoughts and feelings. For more information, you can contact them here, or check out their Facebook group to see some of the amazing work the youth are doing.