CORE Health Youth Center Gives New Purpose to Longview Town Center Building | Local

After more than a decade sitting nearly empty, the old Korten building in downtown Longview has been transformed into a youth recreation and wellness centre.

CORE Health opened its Ascent Youth Activity Center in September as a free and safe meeting place for children and teens, as well as the agency’s center for youth behavioral health and substance abuse services.

As its name suggests, the center aspires to help young people rise in life, said Frank Morrison, executive director of CORE Health.

“These are kids who may need to boost their mental health or get off drugs,” he said. “But we didn’t want to be just a behavioral health center, we want all young people to come.”

CORE Health buys Korten building for youth activity center

The Longview Behavioral Health Agency purchased the 27,000 square foot building in August 2020 and has been renovating it ever since.

Last year, CORE moved its youth services from its 14th Avenue office to the new center, which has about 30 employees, Morrison said. The organization serves about 400 to 500 young people a month at the center and in local schools, he said.

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The center primarily offers mental health services, including individual and group counselling, advice on substance use disorders, as well as a safe space open to all young people in the community, Morrison said.

In 2020, CORE received a $2.2 million grant from the State Department of Commerce’s Behavioral Health Facilities Program to open the center.

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The ground floor houses several offices, nurseries and the future Grizzly Shakes store. Morrison said the ice cream counter will provide a job training opportunity for people 16 and older when it opens, likely in March.

The second floor includes therapy meeting rooms, art studio, homework space, kitchen, media center, rock climbing wall, and resource room. The floor also has event space that the Rivertown Church uses on Sundays, Morrison said.

Much of the basement is still under construction and will include a recreation room with games like table tennis and air hockey. It also houses a full workout room donated by the non-profit organization Harlie’s Angels.

The fitness room at the CORE Health Ascent Youth Activity Center was donated by the non-profit organization Harlie’s Angels.

Katie Fairbanks, The Daily News

Morrison said the opening of the center after years of planning is “like a dream come true”.

“It’s a sigh of relief to have a place they can get used to, a fun place with a support structure,” he said.

Parents mostly reach out for their child to receive services, but some young people refer themselves, Morrison said. Washington law allows minors 13 or older to initiate assessment and treatment for outpatient or inpatient treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders without parental consent.

Matt McCoy, youth addiction counselor, said the center has helped develop the program and provides a space for young clients to be surrounded by their peers. It also enabled activities beyond basic group therapy meetings that helped engage young people, he said.

Most youth in the program struggle with alcohol and cannabis use, but some also use substances like fentanyl, McCoy said.

CORE provides outpatient services but helps young people through inpatient treatment, which is a lengthy process, McCoy said. Since the center opened, staff have helped about six to 10 young people undergo inpatient treatment for drug addiction, he said.

About 19 young people are currently participating in the CORE substance use disorder program, McCoy said. Some are required to attend as part of a probation plan, a program for at-risk youth, and a few come on their own, he said.

McCoy encouraged parents who were having trouble involving their child in treatment or counseling to contact CORE.

“We’re here to meet the need…to meet their child where they are and increase their motivation for change,” he said.

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