LOOKING AHEAD - Barb Barber, executive director of The Outreach Centre, stands in the hallway of what will ultimately be The Dragonfly Children’s Healing Centre. The facility will allow staff to greatly expand their services for children affected by domestic violence. Mark Weber/Red Deer Express

The Outreach Centre to open The Dragonfly Children’s Healing Centre

Spacious new facility will focus on children affected by domestic violence

This fall, The Outreach Centre (Women’s Outreach) will be opening a brand new facility to help children affected by domestic violence.

The two-storey site, located just across the parking lot from the Centre’s main location at 4101 – 54th Ave., will be hosting a grand opening in September but staff are hoping to see finishing touches on construction wrap up later this month or early July.

It will also be called The Dragonfly Children’s Healing Centre.

“The purpose of this Centre is that it’s for children who have trauma from domestic violence, homelessness, or they’ve lost someone to suicide,” explained Barb Barber, executive director of the Centre.

“So they have this trauma that they are experiencing. If we do some early prevention work with them, hopefully they are able to deal with their trauma and then become very healthy, successful adults,” she said.

“Some of the programs we are going to move over here – some we already do and others will be new. We’ve always done a lot of work with the adults – last year, we had about 2,600 adults come through our doors and attached to those 2,600 are 4,300 children between the ages of zero and 17,” she said.

“So what are we doing for the kids? We really feel that if we can reach those children early then we will be able to make a difference and hopefully help them to break that pattern. So that’s the purpose of this building.”

Children’s programs will all be moved over to the new building where they can also be expanded further.

“We also want to work really closely with the other agencies in our community that provide services to children. (Then) we can provide a solid continuum of services for the kids, and then they can really get that healing and the foundation that they need,” she said.

Also, some children not only experience domestic violence, they also don’t have any solid outside influence or help that could at least provide some level of support through those damaging experiences.

Meanwhile, Barber said staff will be able to expand play therapy services.

“Children really learn through play and are able to explain their emotions a bit better, and what’s going on with them through play,” she said, adding there will be three play therapy rooms in the Dragonfly Centre.

“Plus we are putting in a Snoezelen Room, which is a multi-sensory room. It’s really for those kids where their anxiety is really heightened,” she said.

These rooms are specially designed to deliver stimuli to various senses, using lighting effects, color, sounds, music, for examples.

There will also be a variety of group rooms for programs like KID Power – a therapeutic group for children.

“Each one of the age groups will be able to have their own room,” she said. “Plus, we will be doing a youth boundaries group over here, and suicide information and education will be doing some groups over here as well. It’s just really an opportunity to be able to provide and expand services that we are already doing as well.”

As to the name, Barber said the term ‘dragonfly’ has a number of meanings, but for The Outreach Centre staff and volunteers, it’s about hope, change and new beginnings.

“When you first walk in here there is going to be a huge mural of dragonflys as if you are running through the grass and all of these dragonflys are coming up.”

Meanwhile, Barber said The Outreach Centre is welcoming donations to help with project costs, and is also looking for donations of things like office furniture and four, 65” TVs.

For more information on the project or to help out, check out www.womensoutreach.ca, email info@womensoutreach.ca or call 403-347-2480.

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