Program celebrates 22 years of success

The North Okanagan Eating Disorder Program is holding an open house on Oct. 23 to welcome everyone connected to the program

Sharon Durant

Special to The Morning Star

The North Okanagan Eating Disorder Program would like to invite everyone who has been connected to the program to celebrate 22 years of success at our open house this afternoon.

It has been an incredible journey from the onset in March 1991, working closely with Grace Kramer, team lead at the time for the Ministry for Children and Families; Donna Antonishak, community nutritionist; psychiatrist Dr. Fiona McGregor and others who had the foresight to see the dire need for treating youth and adults struggling with disordered eating. When the government pilot project funding was received and later annualized, the program needed a home. That home was with the Canadian Mental Health Association in Vernon and then executive director Hugh Bohm.

The Eating Disorder Program started with the bare essentials, minimal services in the rent-waived Club House owned by CMHA. After five years, the program was relocated to the People Place to join other non-profit programs to offer a welcoming atmosphere of acceptance and provide accessible centralized service.

Many individuals have helped to build this program over the years, including recently retired CMHA executive director Sandy Rysen and many parents who volunteered hours of their time. Parents formed a non-profit group to augment program services and create public awareness both within the professional and general communities.

As well, present and past program staff  Sharon Robbie, Carol Treller, Christina Camilleri, Dr. David Smith, Dr. Paul Carey, Dr. Russell Williams, Dr. Fiona McGregor, Louise Roberts and Jennifer Podovenikoff provided the dedication and commitment necessary to provide this very successful service. In addition, various members of MCFD and IHA Adult Mental Health, inpatient services within Vernon Jubilee Hospital, counsellors and teachers of the Vernon School District, various community support services, general practitioners and the North Okanagan Pediatric Clinic deserve sincere recognition for their invaluable role. The Eating Disorder Program will continue to operate through the Interior Health Authority beginning Nov. 1, referrals remain the same and are provided through family physicians.

Thank you to everyone, from the staff and from our clients who have benefited from the services provided through this small but mighty program.

Please join us today between 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. at the People Place, #105, 3402-27th Ave.

Sharon Durant is interim branch manager for the Canadian Mental Health Association, Vernon branch.