Former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy with his dance partner Jena Smith of Sundre strike a pose on the stairwell above the Sheraton Hotel ballroom Friday prior to the Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off. Eight celebrities including Rollie Cyr, Jodie Schreiner, Colleen Manning, Dustin Snider, Jesse Wallin, karen Goranson and Sherri Ryckman paired up with dance professionals in a competition in support of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre. See story on pages 18-19 (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff) Former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy and his dance partner Jena Smith at the 2017 Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off.(File photo by JEFF STOKOE/Advocate staff)

Plans progressing for Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre

Supporting children, youth and families affected by child physical and sexual abuse

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre could start up on a small scale in a temporary location as early as October.

“We’re working right now on a couple of leads for a permanent home whether we go into an existing building and do a renovation or we build a new facility. But in the meantime we’ll be looking for a space so we can have a group starting the work,” said executive director Mark Jones.

He said they are close to narrowing down a permanent location but it could still take 12 to 24 months to build or renovate, and more fundraising is needed for the project that could cost $4 to $5 million.

The child advocacy centre is being developed to provide a faster, integrated way to help Central Alberta children and youth who have been affected by physically and sexual abuse.

Modelled after the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary, it will wrap several resources like RCMP, family services, mental health, addictions programs and the Crown prosecutor’s office into one location to avoid duplication and gaps in service.

“It’s the right way to do business. You get everyone working together, solving complex issues, and creating opportunities for families to have healing and hope.”

Last year the project received a $150,000 grant to assess the needs of the region and develop an operational plan.

The 2017 Sheraton Celebrity Dance Off recently raised $750,000 for capital costs. The money was split between the centre and its partner Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre. Both are to be housed under one roof.

A board of directors for the centre is now in place and an application has been made for non-profit status. The board will run the facility and participating agencies will provide their staff.

Jones said people learned more about the project through the Dance Off. Hopefully word will spread and existing supporters will get behind it even more than they have already.

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