The newest of eight child and youth advocacy centres in Alberta now calls Lethbridge home.
Each room in the Chinook Child and Youth Advocacy Centre was designed to be minimal, and not overwhelming for child and youth victims who have dealt with abuse.
Cheryl Patterson, manager of the centre, said the family room is just one space that embodies what the centre is meant to be.
“This room in particular is everyone’s favourite by far. It’s a large room where families, caregivers and kids can come and relax during the interview, but also come and decompress in this space after the interview,” said Patterson.
“Just that added feature that makes it feel less institutional and more child-centred.”
An advocate from the centre stays with the family in the space and kids are able to access cabinets full of toys.
Patterson said finding a balance between what’s appropriate décor for someone as young as two to someone as old as 18 was key.
Also unique to the centre are trees which are scattered throughout the hallways and corridors.
“Because they’re a nice pop of colour. They’re playful, but they’re not overwhelming. They’re height-appropriate for little kids, too,” adds Patterson. “It’s amazing how they all walk through the centre and they put their hands all over them and everyone wants to touch the trees that are painted there.”
CEO of the Chinook Sexual Assault Centre, Kristine Cassie, says everything works together in the centre to minimize what is already an overwhelming and traumatic situation.
“What we don’t want is kids being worked up when they’re coming in. They have enough that they’re dealing with. Really just to come in, to feel welcome, to feel calm, to have things where it’s child-friendly, where it’s safe to be in,” says Cassie.
“There’s no place really to hide in here. Because we know a lot of times abuse is a hidden thing. It hides in the nooks and crannies.”
Members of Lethbridge Police also interview many young victims at the centre rather than at the police station, offering a more welcoming and comfortable space.
The final number to construct the facility and get it up and running came in at $630,000.
The new facility will see between 150 to 200 kids a year.