Columbus City Council to Fund Expansion of LGBTQ+ Youth Center Program

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus City Council is providing the Kaleidoscope Youth Center with a $100,000 grant to expand its wellness programs.

Erin Upchurch, executive director of the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, said that before the pandemic, the center saw about 5,000 engagements a year. Now they see 10,000.

She said this funding will not only help them provide enough services to meet demand, but it will also show young people that the city of Columbus welcomes them.

“Through our community wellness initiative and funding from the city, we are expanding our reach and ability to hold this space for our youth and their healing,” Upchurch said.

The Kaleidoscope Youth Center serves young adults ages 12-24. They provide an inclusive space for LGBTQ+ youth to grow up with their drop-in center, free therapy from professionals as part of their wellness program, and support to move into the next phases of their lives by providing housing for people in need.

“And at heart, the work that we do stems from creating safer spaces and the experience of belonging,” Upchurch said.

Upchurch said that in recent years the need for their services has grown.

“We don’t do a good job as adults creating a world for young people in which they can thrive,” Upchurch said. “They don’t come to us because something is wrong with them, they come to us for help so they can deal with the way we talk about them.”

She said that to meet this need, the center must also expand.

On Monday, the Columbus City Council announced the $100,000 grant to expand the program focused on mental health, wellness, trauma recovery and building self-esteem.

“Through our community wellness initiative and funding from the city, we are expanding our reach and ability to hold this space for our youth and their healing,” Upchurch said.

City Council President Shannon Hardin sponsored the legislation.

“It’s vital for young people to grow up in a safe environment where they have high self-esteem and access to resources, such as mental wellness therapy,” Hardin said. “I am proud to sponsor this law so that the Kaléidoscope youth center offers key services to LGBTQIA+ youth in our community. »

Upchurch said the council has always been a strong advocate for the community. She said this support shows young people they need an affirmation.

“When our leaders in the community, our elected officials, support the work we do for me, it again tells our young people that you matter,” Upchurch said.

Upchurch said they plan to hire another therapist and case manager with this funding. This way they won’t have to put people on a waiting list for the wellness program anymore.

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