A children’s healing centre being billed as a first of its kind for Canada will transform the basement of the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter.
The shelter’s society announced the $300,000 project on Thursday and unveiled a $190,000 fundraising campaign to convert a dingy basement play area into a safe haven and place where children affected by domestic violence can begin their recovery. The project could be complete by late spring or early summer next year.
Around 800 victims of domestic abuse pass through the shelter each year, about half of them children. Of those, most are younger than eight, said executive director Ian Wheeliker.
Domestic abuse not only affects their development and psychological health, it impacts them physically. Children often come in with upset stomachs, headaches, eating and sleeping disorders or other maladies directly related to the stress they have undergone.
“If we are really going to make a difference in terms of domestic violence, we need to do all we can do to help these kids start their healing journey while they’re with us. And with the support of the community we’re going to be able to make that happen.”
Children who are victims of sexual or domestic abuse begin to recover while they are at play. Stress levels and heart rates decline and their general well-being improves.
“When kids can engage in play, healing play especially, these conditions return back to normal and it begins their healing process.”
A pair of local community organizations and the RCMP have already stepped up.