This project became important after the unfortunate death of four of the high school’s football players in the fall of 2012. This tragedy had a dramatic impact on fellow students and the community. Mental health has always been a serious community concern in Grande Prairie and this was the impetus to make a significant change to how youth in crisis are supported.
Shortly after the incident, Mr. David Johnston (then Vice Principal of the high school) came forward with the idea to incorporate into the school a multipurpose health facility to deal with the mental, public and social health needs of his students. Beairsto & Associates Engineering Ltd. (BASE) worked with him to create a facility that incorporated a number of health and counseling providers in a high school centre where teens could come and feel safe, anonymous, and cared for. The facility involved reconfiguring one wing of the high school to relocate three classrooms and design office space to facilitate the wellness center. A community fundraiser was engaged involving partners within BASE. All stakeholders were carried through a process to assess their roles and manage their needs. The project took life in June 2012 and all funding and construction was complete by December 2012.
Some of the project highlights include:
- Architectural, structural and mechanical redesign of a 50 year old wing of the school from classroom to office space.
- Collaboration with stakeholders to determine their operating and logistical needs to design an effective delivery model.
- Incorporation of RCMP, mental health, public health, social workers and academic counselors into a seamless health and wellness model.
- Interior space planning and security system to ensure a safe and anonymous atmosphere for youth so they can access it as part of their education programming.
- Listed as one of the Province’s top 25 innovations projects in 2013 by Alberta Venture Magazine.
- Winner of Zone One Alberta School Boards Association Friends of Education Award, 2013.