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Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence blazing a trail for youth mental health
Written by Ashley Lavallee-Koenig, rdnewsNOW, May 17, 2024

The Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence (SKCOE), a trailblazing facility offering integrated mental health support for youth, had its grand opening this week.

The building is complete and partly operational.

Boasting partners from strategic mental health care, client advocacy and support, and addictions counselling in one building, the facility’s novelty comes from its integration of services, creating wrap-around support for youth with complex mental health needs.

“For all those that have been a victim of child abuse, for the countless members of our community who struggle with the invisible pain of mental health and addiction issues, quite simply, we built this for you. It is for you that this centre exists, and it is our honour and privilege to walk alongside you as you reclaim your strength and your voice,” said Mark Jones, CEO of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC), which operates the SKCOE.


Full story at rdnewsnow.com.
Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence opens
Written by Sean McIntosh, Red Deer Advocate, May 16, 2024.

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.


Full story at reddeeradvocate.com.
Lindsey’s Lasting Legacy Part 1: Centre of excellence rises in Red Deer for healing
Written by Johnnie Bachusky, The Albertan, May 16, 2024.

It was an appropriately cold blustery day on March 23 when Red Deer’s Mark Jones drove into Innisfail for the second annual Polar Plunge.

It was a fundraiser at the town’s popular Dark Woods Brewing & Coffee Roasting for the Red Deer-based Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC).

The CACAC is a seven-year-old not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering children and families impacted by unimaginable abuse to courageously move towards healthy and fulfilling lives.

Jones, chief executive officer for CACAC, leads a dedicated team that is already working alongside a network of integrated partners in the new $29-million, three-storey Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence on the south side of the sprawling campus at Red Deer Polytechnic.

The new facility, which is having its grand opening on May 16 with the CACAC occupying the entire third floor, is being hailed as the first of its kind in North America.

“Innisfail has really stepped up and they're heavily involved in what we do,” said Jones, whose organization has also benefited financially the past three holiday seasons from the town’s annual RCMP Charity Check Stop.


Full story at thealbertan.com
Grand opening date set for Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence
Written by Darin Clark, Central Alberta Online. May 6, 2024.

The Grand Opening of the new Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence has been set for May 16th.

The Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence (SKCOE), on the main campus of Red Deer Polytechnic in Red Deer, Alberta, is inviting the public to its Grand Opening on May 16th. The Grand Opening day will feature a full open house where the public can take a self-guided tour through all three floors and learn about the services offered within the Centre. Later that evening there will be a seated formal presentation at the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre, followed by an official ribbon cutting ceremony. There will be free parking at both the SKCOE and the Gary W. Harris for the ceremony.

Full Story at www.centralalbertaonline.com
CTV News Edmonton: Sheldon Kennedy Centre Nearly Complete
Originally aired April 6th, 2024. Full story with the link below.
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre reveals Centre of Excellence’s name
Written by Sean McIntosh, Red Deer Advocate, September 15 2023

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.

Full story at reddeeradvocate.com
Tragedy into triumph: Namings honour heart and soul of new Centre of Excellence
Written by Josh Hall, September 15 2023.

“Welcome to the Sheldon Kennedy Centre of Excellence and the Lindsey More Youth Mental Health and Addiction Hub.”

Those are the words you’ll hear if you drive to the southwest end of campus at Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) to visit or utilize the services of the stunning 60,000+ square foot, three-storey facility dreamt up seven or eight years ago.

The namings were announced Friday, as the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) makes final preparations to permanently open its new doors later this fall to youth and families seeking help related to cases of child abuse.

Full story at rdnewsNOW.com
CACAC building its future Brick by Brick with latest fundraising initiative
Written by rdnewsNOW Staff April 13, 2023.

The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) is inviting you to help build the future for victims of child abuse – Brick by Brick.

Officials with the organization say the Brick by Brick fundraiser is part of the CACAC’s Public Building Campaign, which aims to raise much-needed funds for the new Centre of Excellence.

At participating businesses across central Alberta, the public is invited to purchase brick keychains. Alternatively, if you can’t make it to a physical location, the CACAC is also selling digital brick certificates online. Officials say 100 per cent of the proceeds from keychains and digital bricks will go to the new Centre of Excellence as part of the public building campaign.

Full story at rdnewsNOW.com
Op-Ed: You’re our biggest advocate – and we need your help
As published at rdnewsNOW.com, February 23, 2023.

For six years, the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) has been advocating for children and youth who have had opportunities taken from them by abusers. The families we work with need support and guidance at a time that is often highly traumatic. In times of trauma, it’s hard – if not impossible – to navigate the system alone. That’s where the CACAC comes in.

When a child discloses their abuse to someone, it’s a moment of sheer bravery. That’s not to say that those who don’t come forward aren’t brave – in fact, simply getting dressed and trying to have a normal day at school is an act of bravery for a child who lives in an abusive situation. They deserve to have the best support imaginable, and when they tell their stories they should only have to do that once. After all, retelling one’s story of trauma can, in itself, be a form of re-traumatization. Before the CACAC, victims would have to tell their stories three, four, five or more times to different agencies and professionals. Thanks to changes in legislation, we have a multidisciplinary team comprised of many agencies and organizations that meets around the table to discuss these cases together.

Full story at rdnewsNOW.com
Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre launches public campaign for Centre of Excellence building project
Written by rdnewsNOW Staff February 23, 2023.

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) has officially launched a public campaign for their building project – the Centre of Excellence.

Officials say the 66,566 sq. ft. structure will be the new home of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre, Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre, and Alberta Health Services: Red Deer Child and Youth Addiction and Mental Health Outpatient Clinic; Move your Mood Studio; and the Step Up Step Down youth live-in addiction and mental health program.

Mark Jones, CEO of the CACAC, says they need to raise $12M in order to cover the costs of the building. Of that $12M, Jones says they have already privately raised $8.1M. They’re now appealing to the public to help them raise the remaining $3.9M.

“The business plan for this Centre makes a lot of sense for the community,” says Jones. “Through first-tier tenancy agreements, and full integration with our partners, this project will be very sustainable. But more than anything else, this building project represents hope for these children.”

Full story at rdnewsNOW.com
Red Deer facility to be ‘one of the biggest stands against child abuse that we can make’
Written by Susan Zielinski at Red Deer Advocate February 17, 2023.

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre had its second busiest year in 2021-22 in terms of services provided.

Dylan Rambow, communications co-ordinator for the centre, said services during that year made up almost one-third of all the services the centre has delivered since it first opened.

During the 2021-22 fiscal year, the non-profit organization provided support to 1,048 children and youth and families impacted by child abuse, up from 458 in 2020-21 and 438 in 2019-20.


Rambow didn’t want to speculate on the reason for the increase.

“What I can say is that we have to keep in mind the COVID-19 pandemic may have had something to do with how many reports we would have received,” Rambow said.

Full story at reddeeradvocate.com
New child advocacy Centre on target to open in August 2023
Written by Josh Hall at rdnewsNOW December 10, 2022.

The building’s shell is up and framing is beginning inside, with the new Centre of Excellence and Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) set to open next August.

Construction on the 69,000 square foot building only began this past August on campus at Red Deer Polytechnic.

Mark Jones, CACAC CEO, pointed out during a tour on Saturday that motorists can see the facility from the 32 Street overpass, but he doesn’t believe everyone is aware of the project’s scope.

“We want people to understand that we are creating what will truly be a centre of excellence to help children, youth and families going through trauma, abuse, mental illness and addiction, and so they can have a place to come get the help they need,” says Jones.

Full story at rdnewsNOW.com
Centre of Excellence 35-40 per cent complete, says project manager
Written by Sean Mcintosh at Red Deer Advocate December 10, 2022.

The Centre of Excellence will begin serving central Albertans in less than a year.

Following a tour of the facility on Saturday, project manager Brett Reynolds told The Advocate that the building is about 35-40 per cent complete.

“Structurally we’re 100 per cent (finished). With the interiors we’re just getting started, so we’re only done like five per cent of that,” explained Reynolds, with Eagle Builders.


“The building’s serviced. We have our gas service in. We’re running natural gas for all of our heaters, which is really awesome – typically that’s something that comes at the end. We also have electrical servers coming from (Red Deer Polytechnic) already.”

Full story at reddeeradvocate.com
Breaking Ground, Breaking Cycles
As published in Western Built Magazine - Fall Issue 2022

Eagle Builders was brought onto the project in 2021 to coordinate the Centre’s design elements. Eagle Builders is an Alberta-based manufacturing and construction company specializing in the design, engineering, fabrication, and building of precast concrete structures.
In the beginning, the project team did its due diligence and looked at similar projects in larger communities to draw inspiration, focusing on buildings like the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, which features bright colours and a Lego-themed design.

Child abuse and online child exploitation
are major issues across the country,
yet too often it happens in silence.
It can be very frightening for children to
report their abusers, and it can be especially difficult if children are reporting an adult they rely on, such as a parent or
caregiver. The COVID-19 pandemic has
only exacerbated these challenges by
keeping many children at risk at home
with their abusers.

“From the hockey coach to the
schoolteacher to their friend’s mom,
the pandemic took kids away from
trusted adults and, for many kids, kept
them at home with their abusers,” says
the CACAC Campaign Director, Jennifer
O’Shea. “As a society, we’ve always
been very reactive to child abuse and
doing the work after it’s already happened. The Centre of Excellence will act as a beacon in the dark. The new building will allow us to be more proactive by putting all the partners that kids need
at one location. We want this to be the
new model for recovery and support.”

Full story at WesternBuiltMagazine.ca
Construction on schedule for centre to help abused children in central Alberta
Written by Susan Zielinski at Red Deer Advocate October 12, 2022.

The Centre of Excellence to help young victims of abuse is taking shape on Red Deer Polytechnic’s campus.

Dylan Rambow, communications co-ordinator for Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre which will relocate to the new centre, said construction is currently on schedule. Dry, calm weather during the summer helped maintain the pace of the three-storey construction project.

“With that weather they were able to get a lot of wall and floor segments up really quickly which was a bonus,” said Rambow about the precast cement pieces that were lifted into place by a crane.


No materials shortages have impacted construction. Exterior painting is almost complete and work to install windows is underway.

Full Story at reddeeradvocate.com
Ground breaks for new Centre of Excellence for CACAC
Written by Aime Macinnis at Lacombe Online June 22, 2022.

Shovels are in the ground for the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre’s (CACAC) Centre of Excellence as of yesterday. With the building officially underway, CACAC and its dedicated Partners can continue their efforts in creating a safer, healthier future for the children of Central Alberta.

“It is a historic day today for not only the CACAC, but for those who have supported us along the way, and for our entire community. But before we celebrate this momentous milestone in our journey, we must first acknowledge this day. June 21st is National Indigenous People’s Day – and it is important to our organization that we acknowledge the significance of today as we break- ground on Treaty 7 land, the traditional and ancestral territory of the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina and Stoney Nakoda peoples. We also recognize the impacts of colonialism on Indigenous peoples, while celebrating the resiliency and strength of Indigenous populations through history. Thank you to Lloyd Desjarlais from Red Deer Polytechnic for leading us through conversations and ensuring we respectfully recognize those impacted. It is with great honor that on such an important day, we are able to build our path to supporting all those impacted by child abuse and mental health,” said Mark Jones, CACAC CEO.

Full story at LacombeOnline.com
Construction to begin on Centre of Excellence to help children and youth in central Alberta
Written by Susan Zielinski at Red Deer Advocate June 21, 2022.

Several shovels hit the dirt on Tuesday at the official groundbreaking for the new Centre of Excellence that will include the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre.

Located on Red Deer Polytechnic’s campus, the $22.4-million, one-of-a-kind facility will bring together professionals with experience in abuse, addictions and mental health in one building.

Abuse survivor and project supporter Sheldon Kennedy thanked Premier Jason Kenney for “quarterbacking” the project.

Kenney, who was among those who picked up a shovel, said people must do everything in their power to prevent child abuse in all its forms.

“To do that we need to empower youth and kids so they know that there are organizations where they can get help. And this centre will do just that, changing the way central Alberta responds to abuse. It will work collectively with partners across the region to make sure every kid’s needs are met,” Kenney said to the crowd that included community donors to the project.

Full story at reddeeradvocate.com
New home for Child Advocacy Centre and others at RDP expected to save lives
Written by Josh Hall at rdnewsNOW June 21, 2022.

Ground was broken Tuesday on what will soon be home of the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC).

The CACAC will call home the innovative Centre of Excellence, as it’s been dubbed — a 66,566 square foot facility on the grounds of Red Deer Polytechnic. It’ll also be home to the Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre and Alberta Health Services, plus others.

Guests included Premier Jason Kenney, who was credited for his cooperation with the CACAC when they pitched for provincial funding, $3.5 million. Also present was Respect Group Inc. co-founder Sheldon Kennedy, and CACAC mastermind Terry Loewen.

According to data shared by Kennedy, whose name was formerly on Calgary’s child advocacy centre: abused children are 26x more likely to experience youth homelessness, drop out 30x more, and are 15x more likely to die by suicide.

“I am pleased to welcome the Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre to our beautiful campus overlooking the forest reserve and next to the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre,” said Jim Brinkhurst, Interim RDP President. “We look forward to this collaboration that will serve central Albertans and present tremendous learning and applied research opportunities for students and staff for years to come.”

Constructed by Eagle Builders, the three-storey building should be complete by summer 2023.

Full story at rdnewsNOW.com
Province announces $3.4 million investment for Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre
Written by rdnewsNOW Staff March 1, 2022.

The Alberta government has announced a $3.4 million investment to help build a new Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre (CACAC) in Red Deer to provide services to vulnerable children and youth.

Officials note the CACAC will advocate for and provide services to children facing child abuse and mental health issues. Alberta’s government has approved a land lease between Red Deer Polytechnic (RDP) and CACAC for about one acre, where a new facility will be located in behind the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre.

“Child abuse has no place in our province and Alberta’s government is committed to keeping vulnerable children safe,” said Premier Jason Kenney, in Red Deer, on Tuesday. “Through this unique project, we will provide a mix of social and justice services to ensure we support victims, prosecute offenders and deliver critical mental health supports.”

Full story at rdnewsNOW.com