After years of planning, the Specialized Services for Children and Youth Centre (SSCY) is finally happening.
Nicole LaTourelle is the campaign director for the SSCY’s capital campaign to raise $5 million to build the new SSCY Centre in the old Christie Biscuits factory on Notre Dame Avenue. The centre will be an one-stop shop where children and youth with special needs can access the types of services they need, but currently have to travel around the city to get, LaTourelle said.
“It’s about families, it’s about creating a space and an environment where kids can be kids and families can be families.”-Nicole LaTourelle, campaign director for the SSCY’s capital campaign
"Families were spending an awful lot of time going from service provider to service provider to get their services," LaTourelle told The Sou’wester at the Rehabilitation Centre for Children on Wellington Crescent in River Heights.
LaTourelle said families were polled over a period of 10 years to see how SSCY could be better.
"Families were saying things like, the system is hard to navigate, to get around, we need a service co-ordinator, I need better parking, it would be nice if it were one location," LaTourelle said. "They were wanting an easier time of it.
"Because if you think of it, if you have a child who is in a wheelchair, and the wheelchair is about 150 pounds, then you have the child, then you maybe have one or two other children with you, then you have to go from location to location trying to receive services," LaTourelle said.
LaTourelle said families were also forced to retell the story of their child’s diagnosis over and over to different service providers.
"So SSCY was developed through the service providers’ alliance and they created a central intake," LaTourelle said. "So now when you have a child with a special need they go through intake and they triage where they go for their services."
LaTourelle said the natural next step for SSCY was to create one central location for all services, the new SSCY Centre. The former factory will be completely gutted (the classic exterior sign will stay), unveiling just over 97,000 square feet of usable space. The space will be broken into different neighbourhoods including Ability Acres, Clinic Crossing, and Kids’ Care Corner for the different services that will be provided.
Most services, currently located across the city, will be moving into the building to create a one-stop shop for families.
"All the services here at Rehabilitation Centre for Children, some of the services from SMD society, some of the services from Children’s Hospital, so all of the occupational therapy, physical therapy, rehab, those kinds of services (will move into the new centre)," LaTourelle said.
The cost of the new centre is approximately $22 million, $17 million of which will be covered by the provincial government, $5 million that must be raised in the capital campaign. LaTourelle said they have currently raised $2.6 million since 2012, and they have until 2015 to raise the final $2.4 million.
"The thing with this campaign is that it’s not about the building," LaTourelle said. "It’s about families, it’s about creating a space and an environment where kids can be kids and families can be families."
The centre is schedule to open its doors in 2016. To learn how you can contribute to the campaign visit togetherisbetter.ca/how-to-donate