With funding from Health Canada as part of the Centres of Excellence for Children's Well-Being (CECWB) Program, the Centre of Excellence for Children and Adolescents with Special needs was established in October 2000 as part of a consortium of four universities and one territorial government. The consortium was led by Lakehead University, with the national office located at its campus in Thunder Bay. Other members of the consortium included Memorial University of Newfoundland, Mount Saint Vincent University, University of Northern British Columbia, and the Government of Nunavut.
Based on the CECWB Program, the mandate of the Centre was to produce knowledge about children and adolescents with special needs in rural and northern Canada and to transfer that knowledge back to those who could use it to make a difference in the lives of children.
With the announcement in 2010 that the CECWB Program would no longer receive funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada, our Centre has undergone restructuring and reorganizing for the future. We continue our research into strength-based assessments and programming both regionally and provincially with the support from a number of alternative funding sources.
In particular, in 2012 the Centre was awarded a Partnership Development research grant from Canada's Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) for approximately $200,000. This grant facilitates the partnership between the Centre, Lakehead Public Schools, Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, and the Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique des Aurores Boréales. The grant was awarded to support the implementation and evaluation of a strengths-based educational approach within their respective schools.
In the spring of 2013 the Centre underwent a name change to “The Centre of Education and Research on Positive Youth Development” (CERPYD) to reflect its expansion and prevent confusion to the public and clients. Importantly, the name change removed the term “Special Needs,” which limited our potential to expand to other avenues of work. This change better reflects our current research focus and has allowed us to strengthen our capacity to facilitate activities that include children and youth of various abilities and backgrounds.