Craigwood Youth Services

My name is Holly and I am the mother of a child who is currently receiving treatment at Craigwood Youth Services in Ailsa Craig, Ontario. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for the Craigwood treatment facility my son, Brian, would not be alive today and my family would not be as whole as it is right now. And for that I will be eternally grateful.

Let me tell you a bit about my family - specifically my son Brian. Brian is 13 years old. Brian is amazing. He is a funny, witty boy who is incredibly smart and insightful, and deeply caring and compassionate about his classmates and friends. He is chatty and charming, and everyone who has worked with him loves him. Brian struggles with a severe mental illness: bipolar with psychotic features and a series of other comorbid diagnoses.

Exactly one year ago, last April, Brian’s intense anger and uncontrollable rages caused me to flee my home with my two younger children to live in the basement at my mother-in-law’s house for 5 months. My husband stayed behind in our home with Brian. Despite having a government-funded support worker with Brian 12 hours a day, 7 days a week, we were no longer able to keep our other children safe and protected from the trauma inflicted by their brother’s behaviours. On top of that, Brian was suicidal - with no desire to continue to live like that.

For four years Brian’s explosive uncontrolled rages caused him to attack others physically and verbally. When these passed, he was filled with shame and self-loathing, and has been hospitalized for suicidal behavior and intentions numerous times. Our family was breaking down, unable to live together safely, and we could not see a future where Brian did not die from suicide.

With the help of the children’s services from our local Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA - Guelph - Wellington), and government funding for Brian’s complex special needs, we were able to find Craigwood Youth Services, in Ailsa Craig. Brian has been receiving treatment at Craigwood since September 2018, which is the fourth residential facility we have tried. The impact on Brian’s well-being has been extraordinary. The treatment he is receiving has allowed him to acquire the ability to cope with daily frustrations, manage his anger, stabilize his mood, gain important life skills, attend the Section 23 school on-site (he has not been able to attend any schooling regularly for many years) and build meaningful relationships with staff and other youth on site.

Ailsa Craig’s farms, natural spaces, and the distance to town allow Brian to regain control over himself without harming others.

It is the tolerance and compassion that is taking place at Craigwood that makes this place so special. It is through your campaign that I would like to have recognized the great work that is taking place in that yellow-brick farmhouse in Ailsa Craig. Troubled children don’t need more 12-foot fences or uniforms, as these have only turned their rage and pain inward. They require kindness and understanding to manage the hand that life has dealt them, and grow to be productive members of our society. That is what Craigwood aims to do.

Finally, I want to thank you for taking the time to listen to our family’s story. I believe passionately in the good work of the staff at Craigwood Youth Services. I know that those who meet Brian and who see the staff’s accomplishments will also see why it is such a healing and special place. Ailsa Craig should be profoundly proud of what happens in the yellow house. We are profoundly grateful and blessed that it there.


- Holly

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