The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) has announced not one but two names for their new Centre of Excellence. The Lindsey More Youth Mental Health and Addiction Hub and the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence.
The Shelden Kennedy Centre of Excellence is located on the main campus of Red Deer Polytechnic. Partners inside the centre itself include the CACAC, the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, RCMP Child Forensic Interviewers, and Alberta Health Services (AHS). AHS will be offering Red Deer Child and Youth Addiction and Mental Health Outpatient Clinic; Move your Mood Studio; and the Step Up Step Down live-in youth mental health programs within the facility.
“The job is just unreal. We got the building, we got to finish it, and then we got to get everybody in here working and then get what the building was built for which is the clients,” said Mark Jones, CEO of the CACAC.
The CACAC continues their fundraising work for the facility and Jones says there’s still a ways to go. Although they have $10.5 million of their $12 million goal, the fundraising will likely continue.
“We'll continue to go until we're mortgage free,” added Jones.
The need for help grows
Jones says the need for the facility continues to increase in the community as well.
“Last year, for the whole year we did two 332 forensic interviews in the year and this year, at the end of August, we were at 331 and we still have all of September, October, November, and December stats to go,” he explained.
The placement of the facility allows for collaboration with the post-secondary school and allows for research training, and work experience for students.
“To have it on our campus of a Polytechnic really allows us to integrate education program and create work integrated learning opportunities for our students across multiple programs. It also creates an opportunity for a center 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 want it to be a Center of Excellence for research and education practice and integrated practice across Canada, if not, the world,” said Stuart Cullum, President of Red Deer Polytechnic.
Former NHL player and Co-Founder of Respect Group, Sheldon Kennedy was present for the announcement this afternoon (September 15, 2023) along with the board and staff of the CACAC and other local dignitaries including Alberta Premier Danielle Smith.
“I was abused as a kid but I also was in long term mental health hospitals, psych wards, and suicide watch. I could have easily been a person that was not with us today. By the grace of God, I'm here and somehow found my way out of addiction and somehow found a purpose to be here. I think that there's a closer connection than people think to Sheldon Kennedy and Lindsey,” said Kennedy.
The Lindsey More Youth Mental Health and Addiction Hub has been named after Lindsey More who lost her life to suicide in 2015. After her death, her family started the Smiles Thru Lindsey Foundation to carry out one of her dreams of helping low-income youth gain access to mental health supports. The Lindsey More Youth Mental Health and Addiction Hub is located on the second floor of the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence.
Lindsey’s father, Rick admitted that families approach he and his wife wondering what to do when their child is suffering but now he believes there is now a solution in the community with the addition of the hub.
“They'll learn how to cook, they'll learn how to do laundry. They'll learn how to get back in the public, and they'll learn that there is no shame, that they have something many do have. So that’s it in nutshell. It’s more of a cure than a band-aid,” he explained.
Rick took delight in seeing a Cessna plane fly over the naming ceremony. Lindsey always wanted to be a pilot and he believed that she was with them celebrating at the name reveal.
“She's with us and she's saying way to go. She's with all those that have lost their battles. They're all here together with us and clapping,” he added.
The Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence is nearing completion, and some tenants will be preparing to move in soon. By mid-October, it is anticipated that the facility will be fully operational.
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