Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre CEO Mark Jones and Edmonton Oiler Ryan Nugent-Hopkins posed for a photo during a luncheon in support of the Centre on Sept. 12th. Todd Vaughan/Red Deer Express

WATCH: NHLers support Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins returns to Red Deer in support of good cause

The Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre received a big boost from the community after a luncheon that featured former Red Deer Rebel and current Edmonton Oiler Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was held at the Holiday Inn in Red Deer.

The luncheon, which saw all proceeds go to the Child Advocacy Centre, featured many National Hockey League (NHL) notables including Nugent-Hopkins, Rebels Head Coach Brent Sutter, Oilers General Manager Peter Chiarelli and CEO and Vice Chair of Oilers Entertainment Group Bob Nicholson — all of whom were featured in a hot stove panel.

Nugent-Hopkins said it was good to be back in Red Deer, lending his support to a good cause.

“It is just getting going and it is becoming a big thing,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It is a great cause and a great thing to be a part of and support. When you get a chance, as someone in my situation, to be able to support this — you have to jump on it and try to help in any way you can. I am happy to come down today and be at least a small part of it.”

Nugent-Hopkins was able to return to the City where he played his junior hockey career, eventually leading him to becoming the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

“It is cool to be able to come down, support it and see some familiar faces I haven’t seen in a long time back in a great city I had a lot of fun playing junior hockey in,” he said. “My fiance is from Red Deer, so we come back down a lot to see her family. I still talk to my billets and see them quite a bit, but even if they weren’t here – Red Deer would still be a big part of my life.

“I made some great friends, played on a great hockey team and had a lot of fun being here.”

Central Alberta Child Advocacy Centre CEO Mark Jones said the event was an opportunity for the Centre to showcase what they are trying to accomplish.

“More importantly, it gives people the recognition that the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are very supportive of everything we do,” he said. “You want to have the knowledge and increase the number of people who know that we are here working and things are being done to change the way Central Alberta works with child abuse.”

The support of players like Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers and the Flames has led to more exposure for the Centre.

“Both organizations have sent players in and personnel behind the scenes to help us out and try to bring it to the forefront that it is okay to talk about abuse,” Jones said.

Currently, the Centre is working with Red Deer College on a new Centre where they will be able to collaborate with several programs.

“The exciting thing is that in two hours we will get our first conceptional drawings of what the building will look like. We are still very focused and committed to putting shovels in the ground this April 2019,” he said.

Jones said the type of relationships the Centre has with RDC, the Oilers and Flames are critical.

“You are trying to get as many partnerships created so that we can not only do the intervention piece for children and adolescents who have been victims of abuse, but also bringing in partnerships to bring in prevention programs where in the future we will be able to get out to schools and in the College with programming to be able to have individuals trained to recognize signs of abuse,” he said.

Jones said the success of the Centre is clear.

“Since January. 2018, we have had our 196th forensic interview take place in our Centre,” Jones said. “It shows the collaboration between our working partners. When you all integrate your practices and work together, you can make significant things happen in a very quick time.”

todd.vaughan@reddeerexpress.com

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