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Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence opens

Facility serves as the home of multiple organizations

The Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence is now open.

A grand opening ceremony was held for the facility on Thursday evening. About 600 people toured the centre earlier in the day during an open house.

"When the collective comes together, unbelievable things happen. Our community has come together and said, 'We believe in helping our most vulnerable. We believe in helping you build,'" said Mark Jones, Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre CEO.

The goal of the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence is to bring strategic mental health care, client advocacy and support, and addictions counselling partners together in order to more effectively serve clients ranging from children to adults. More than $12 million has been raised to get the centre built, in addition to the $3.4 million provided by the Government of Alberta.

The partners inside the centre include the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, Alberta Health Services, RCMP, and Children and Family Services. With over 69,000 square-feet, the building features more 40 mental health therapy rooms, and allows for expanded services for the organizations that call the centre home.

It was announced last September that the building would be named after Sheldon Kennedy, former NHL player and co-founder of Respect Group.

"It truly is remarkable what everybody has accomplished. I say everybody because this was a community effort from everyone," Kennedy said during the grand opening ceremony at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

"I'm proud to be a part of this."

Located beside Red Deer Polytechnic's main campus, the centre will impact up to 15 different curricula at the post-secondary institution.

Patrick Machacek, RDP vice-president of development and partnerships leadership team member, said the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence being located on campus provides an opportunity to educate and inform the next generation of teachers, social workers, health professionals and others.

"In addition, the centre provides a platform to conduct real world applied research that will help inform and shape the future of integrated practices to support and protect vulnerable and abused children and youth. It is truly a profound opportunity for Red Deer Polytechnic and the students we serve," said Machacek.

Alberta Minister of Infrastructure Pete Guthrie was one of several dignitaries to speak during the grand opening.

"This is a centre that focuses on collaboration and innovative supports to better serve vulnerable children and families. It's unfortunate that this is necessary, but facilities like this one are vital to providing life-changing programs that are so impactful to the lives of our kids," said Guthrie.

For more information on the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence, visit www.centralalbertacac.ca/centre-of-excellence.



Sean McIntosh

About the Author: Sean McIntosh

Sean joined the Red Deer Advocate team in the summer of 2017. Originally from Ontario, he worked in a small town of 2,000 in Saskatchewan for seven months before coming to Central Alberta.
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