Calgary Herald

EvenStart gets a boost from Centron for new digs


Centron Group of Companies has become one of the leading developmen­t and constructi­on groups in Western Canada since it was founded in 1984 by CEO Bob Harris. It’s also one of the good city firms committed to giving back to the community by working closely with not-forprofit organizati­ons.

Harris and three friends donated $5.6 million to kickstart a new home for Accessible Housing and through its Centron Cares Program has assisted many other organizati­ons, including Foothills Academy and the Developmen­t Disabiliti­es Resource Centre. It also built the Lions Village seniors facility.

It recently replaced a building on Hull Services’ southwest campus and has embarked on a new project to help provide a new building for EvenStart in partnershi­p with the Heartland Agency. The building, designed by NORR Architects Engineers Planners, will be constructe­d on donated land in Mayland Heights on 18th Street N.E.

Contributi­ng contractor­s who helped make the project possible include consulting engineerin­g companies Level, Stebnicki, Brickhouse and ISL.

The two-storey building will replace the current location at Currie Barracks.

It’s a dream come true for Ilona Boyce, who founded Heartland Agency 20 years ago.

She spent many years as regional director of daycare for southern Alberta but wanted to start a program of her own that would have fewer restrictio­ns than those under government operation.

With a little seed money from the government, a van donated by her late husband, and a lot of courage, she launched Heartland Agency and began delivering a modest program called EvenStart from the basement of St. Stephen’s Anglican Church.

Her clients, many of whom are high-risk children, are suffering differing kinds of trauma causing speech impediment­s and anxiety. With their learning compromise­d and little ability to focus, they suffer forms of stress and behavioura­l problems.

At the Currie Barracks facility and a second location in Monterey Park, EvenStart programs care for 150 children aged three to five who are coached by a staff of 64 trained profession­als who prepare them for entry into the regular school system.

Boyce said the EvenStart Foundation has saved every year and with the assistance of Centron Group and its friends, help from the business community and from United Way, funding is on hand to begin constructi­on.

The building has been designed from the ground-up through the eyes of a child.

Each of the classrooms will have its own washroom, water and play areas.

It will include a sensory room where a child can take timeout if necessary, breakout rooms, an occupation­al therapy room and an art centre in the lower level.

Occupancy of the new centre is planned for December of this year when staff — with the help of Robin Aitken of Equa Design — will craft the interiors.

Another Boyce dream is to secure a donation that will cover the cost of interior play apparatus she has seen in use at a children’s museum in Mexico.

A two-storey magical climbing tree would not only provide a lot of fun but would help children with their co-ordination.

Boyce has set aside space and a gifted artist who lives in the Drop In Centre — Boyce is a former DI board chair — has designed scarves that are being sold to start the funding ball rolling.


When wine educator Linda Garson told me four years a ago she was to become editor-inchief of a new food and beverage magazine called Culinaire, I cautioned her that she was embarking on a tough propositio­n.

But she became passionate­ly involved — and so energetica­lly proud.

Always a good read, Culinaire debuts in Edmonton this month.

 ??  ?? The Centron Group of Companies is working with Heartland Agency on a new building in Mayland Heights for the EvenStart program.
The Centron Group of Companies is working with Heartland Agency on a new building in Mayland Heights for the EvenStart program.
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