The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre has announced a pair of new names related to the new Centre of Excellence in Red Deer.
On Friday, a ceremony was held to announce the building will be called the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence. This is named after Sheldon Kennedy, who is a former NHL player and co-founder of Respect Group.
“This honour bestowed to me strongly supports my vision and our collective goal to help all youth child advocacy centres not only in Alberta, but across Canada and beyond,” said Kennedy.
“I am so proud to be part of this journey with the Centre of Excellence and I am incredibly humbled to have this one-of-a-kind facility will bear my name.”
Additionally, the name of the Lindsey More Youth Mental Health and Addiction Hub was revealed. This hub, located on the second floor, is named after Lindsey More, who died by suicide in 2015.
After Lindsey’s passing, a coalition was formed with the initial goal of providing access to critical and necessary mental health resources for adolescents. Kennedy suggested the coalition begin building a child advocacy centre in Central Alberta – this became the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre.
“It’ll be eight years next week – on the 20th she took her life. People still remember,” said Rick More, Lindsey’s father and co-founder of the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation.
“If this was built nine years ago, I know she’d be alive today. I know we would know where to go and I know she would fit in with anybody in here. That’s who she was. It was her smile, her personality – that’s why people remember her.
“It can happen to anybody. We’ve got to pay attention (to each other).”
Mark Jones, Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre CEO, said he’s glad the centre will pay tribute to both Sheldon Kennedy and Lindsey More.
“We are very honoured to have Lindsey More’s name on our Youth Mental Health and Addiction Hub. We also feel a tremendous sense of gratitude and excitement to have Sheldon Kennedy’s name attached to the Centre of Excellence,” said Jones.
“This is a truly special moment for us. Without Sheldon’s support and vision, we would not be gathered here today. Lindsey and Sheldon represent the heart and soul of the Centre of Excellence – who it serves, what it aims to be, and what we will achieve together.”
The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre is set to move into the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence by the end of the month. The Sexual Assault Support Centre will move in around Thanksgiving weekend.
Move Your Mood Studio, a program that promotes physical activity and healthy lifestyle practices, will have its equipment installed beginning next week. Alberta Health Services will receive its keys in mid-November – Jones estimates the provincial health authority programming will be operational in January.
Friday’s name reveal was attended by a number of dignitaries, including Premier Danielle Smith.
Terry Loewen, Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre board chair, said this facility located beside Red Deer Polytechnic’s main campus is built by the community.
“This is a legacy project that’s going to change and save lives … and it 100 per cent has been a full community effort,” Loewen said.
“When I think back it’s actually quite humbling to know that a tragedy one day, with months we had a (child advocacy centre) started. Seven or eight years later we have this 66,000 square-foot building built. It’s quite amazing and it’s not one or two people that did this, it’s the whole community and Province of Alberta.”
Stuart Cullum, RDP president, said the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence is an important facility that addresses child health and offers treatment.
“To have it on a campus of a polytechnic really allows us to integrate education programming, create work-integrated learning opportunities for our students across multiple programs,” Cullum explained.
“It also creates an opportunity for a centre like this to be a real research engine for integrated practice. We want this to obviously serve the needs of Central Alberta and Alberta, but we also want it to be a centre of excellence for research, education practice and integrated practice across Canada, if not the world.”