Ekhaya Youth Project Cuts Ribbon To West Monroe Facility

WEST MONROE-- The Ekhaya Youth Project is a state-wide program that has been servicing the twin cities since 2013.

Friday, they cut the ribbon to their facility where mentally ill youth can go to get help.

"A place where the whole entire family comes together on the behalf of the wholeness and health and healing of youth and their whole family," says VanShawn Branch, Chief Operating Officer.

The services offered are geared toward giving them life skills needed in the real world.

"We're seeing a reduction in expulsions. We're seeing less suspensions. There are less suicides that are happening, and the attempts of suicides that are happening," says Darrin Harris, Ekhaya CEO.

And it's free of charge to families.

"They are all eligible for medicaid services, and because they are eligible for Medicaid, they can participate in what we call the family support organization," says Harris.

Organizers say this facility will serve as a judgement free zone, where they can come and be around children just like themselves.

"It helps them to build better relationships with other individuals and see that there is a brighter side to their current situation," says Janice Charleston, State-Wide Development and Training Officer.

Mentors are chosen on a basis of having experienced what the child has gone through.

"Sometimes they lose sight that other people are going through the same situation or have gone through that situation, and so once that door is open  and they see that there are people like them, maybe not exactly like them, but as close as possible that they can relate to," says Charleston.

Organizers say they are looking for employees and volunteers to help make this program in a success.

"We're always looking for great people. They can go to our website, which is www.ekhayafso.org," says Charleston.

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