Joan Donald and husband Jack address a group gathered in the foyer of the Red Deer College Arts Centre after donating $3 million to the college on Wednesday. The money will go towards new Donald Health and Wellness Centre in the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. (Photo by Jeff Stokoe/Advocate staff)

Donald Health & Wellness Centre gets $3 million

Jack and Joan Donald fund wing at Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre

Health education at Red Deer College received a shot in the arm on Wednesday when philanthropists Jack and Joan Donald donated $3 million to the post-secondary institution.

The money will go towards the construction of the Donald Health & Wellness Centre, a wing in the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

Retiree Jack Donald said supporting health and wellness appeals to them.

“In your later years, you need more health care. Health care is becoming more and more complex so people need more training to administer and provide it to look after people as they get older,” said Donald who founded and built Parkland Industries Ltd. with his wife Joan.

“Everyone in the room, if you look around us here, is getting older one year at a time,” he said after the funding announcement was made at the Arts Centre foyer at the college.

He also said it’s nice to be able to help out the community now.

“We’re trying to do things while we’re still here to enjoy seeing it happen and helping it happen, and working towards it so that it does happen,” Donald said.

RDC president Joel Ward said the Donalds are correct when they talk about preparing for an aging population by focusing on technology and health care professionals. The college is positioned to do just that.

He said Donald Health & Wellness Centre will be home to the college’s School of Health Sciences.

“There will be lots of classroom space and lab space to support our programs whether it’s nursing, practical nursing, health care aide, medical lab technician, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and new programs that we have on the books that we’ll be announcing fairly soon as well,” Ward said.

In addition to increasing programming opportunities on campus, the wellness centre will be another major step in RDC’s efforts to attain polytechnic university status, a designation that would allow the college to offer its own degrees.

The $88-million Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, funded by a combination of donations, partnerships and government funding, will welcome students in the fall of 2018 and will host five events during the 2019 Canada Winter Games.

He said RDC has raised more than half of the $30 million it will put towards the Canada Games Centre.

“We’ve got three more major announcements coming in the next 12 months. We’re very optimistic we’re going to reach our target. The facility will be open on time. It will be under budget actually a little bit, and it will be ready for the games in 2019.”

Joan Donald said the Olympic-sized ice surface and other sports amenities being built at the Canada Games Centre are very much needed.

“This is going to bring it all right here. I think it’s the most wonderful thing Red Deer has done in a long time,” she said.

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