Norwood Child & Family Resource Centre is an Edmonton based organization that has been supporting children and families since 1963. We provide a wide range of programs and support services focused on supporting optimal childhood development and creating positive and healthy change for children and families.
A proud Operator of two Parent Link Centers, Norwood takes a collaborative approach to creating positive outcomes for children and families in Edmonton. Norwood has a long history of working independently and in unison with like-minded organizations. We endeavor to foster a sense of belonging and connectedness with our families and the community to support the strength and vitality of this unique City of Edmonton.
Our Proud History
The Norwood Neighbourhood
The boundaries of the Norwood neighbourhood encompass the area between 89th Street to the east and 97th Street to the west, and 111th Avenue (Norwood Boulevard) to the south and 118th Avenue to the north. So named in 1904, Norwood was a derivative of the surrounding district known as the “North Woods”. In 1906, developers McDougall and Secord acquired the land encompassing present-day Norwood, and divided it into lots. The area south of 115th Avenue was the first to be subdivided, as the entire area to the north was still under water.
Norwood School – proclaimed to be a most modern and efficiently planned school – was completed in 1908, having been built in the heart of the new community. A land boom in 1912 forced contractors to start using the previously undesirable or inaccessible land to the north of 115th Avenue. Lake area was drained via the old Rat Creek. Lots were surveyed and houses constructed, some so hastily that they were built too close to streets and alleys.
Norwood, like most older neighbourhoods, is a community of contrasts. It is a neighbourhood in which large and well preserved 2-storey homes meld into tiny bungalows and semi-bungalows. It is a neighbourhood in which the cultures of early western settlers, who have lived in Norwood since its subdivision before World War I, blend with those of recent immigrants. And, it is a neighbourhood offering many of the advantages of maturity: proximity to downtown; large mature trees; a relatively inexpensive housing stock; and a sense of character.
Taken from the 1976 Norwood Plan, these words continue to ring true.
It also must be acknowledged that Norwood is now one of Edmonton’s poorer inner city communities. It faces many tough issues that can be associated with its lower socio-economic status such as crime and drug and prostitution traffic. However, it is also a district where residents, business owners, and staff and volunteers associated with its many community-based organizations – including social service agencies, neighbourhood associations, school and the local library – believe strongly and actively in its revitalization. Changed a little, yes, but working its way through its problems and remembered always with a smile by all who grow up in and around it.
Norwood has a history of being, and will continue to be, a character-filled place to live, work and play.
Norwood Readiness Centre and House
The Norwood Child & Family Resource Centre, formerly the Norwood Readiness Centre, began in 1963 as a preparatory class for five-year-olds – with emphasis on language and emotional development – in the basement of Norwood United Church. Mothers of the children met every two weeks and assisted daily with the youngsters. The project was initially sponsored by the National Council of Jewish Women and the Junior League of Edmonton.
Co-sponsorship and research conducted by the University of Alberta’s Department of Educational Psychology led to an expansion of the Readiness Centre. From the preparatory class grew the idea of renting a house across the street to provide a meeting place for the mothers and an area for teaching arts, crafts and household hints. The house, which was obtained in June 1969, soon blossomed into a meeting place for teens and a nursery school for children of parents assisting in the readiness program. In September 1969, the readiness program expanded to include four-year-olds.
By 1970, the Readiness Centre was receiving support from the City of Edmonton’s Department of Social Preventive Services and the Edmonton Social Planning Council. As more and more people, in the community and across the city, realized that something was happening in Norwood, volunteers with many capabilities and skills came to offer assistance. Members of the Norwood community, which consisted of many ethnic groups, began expressing their needs and new programs including English classes for new Canadians were initiated.
In the early 1970s, the Readiness Centre became a focal point for the political and environmental concerns of Norwood residents. These duties were soon taken over by the Norwood Neighbourhood Association and the Centre returned its focus to running the kindergarten, being a drop-in for locals, and providing social services. The Norwood Readiness Centre and House became the Norwood Community Service Centre in 1974.
The Norwood neighbourhood was designated as the City of Edmonton’s Neighbourhood Improvement Program (NIP) area for 1975. NIP was a federally initiated Program that was funded by three levels of government and administered municipally.
The Norwood NIP plan called for the development of a “neighbourhood park with a community centre.” Originally to be called the Norwood Community Centre, in the end the building was named Norwood Centre. The development site was an area north of 114th Avenue between 95th Street and the alley lane between 95thA and 96th Streets, land previously occupied in part by the old Powell Block.
The park area covered 2.5 acres, and the multi-purpose centre included office facilities for the Norwood Community Service Centre and the Norwood Neighbourhood Association, as well as space for the many NCSC programs including the nursery school, kindergarten and teen nights. The new facility included an arts and crafts room, a large lounge, and a fully equipped kitchen. Centre construction and park area development were complete by August 1979.
Physical Upgrades to Norwood Centre
Enrolment in pre-school programs at Norwood Community Service Centre more than doubled in the first 1½ years after the new Norwood Centre became operational in August 1979. Plans were underway to add an addition to the building as early as November 1980, in order for NCSC to operate an after-school care program.
By October 1996, a one million dollar expansion/renovation to Norwood Centre had been completed. Doubling its size, the Centre was ready to enable an expanded offering of programs by NCSC including a weekly public health clinic, literacy enhancement, a coat room drop-off for people looking for children’s coats, and a self-defence program for women. The expansion saw the original Centre go from 640 to 1385 square metres including three new playrooms, a gym, additional office space, a larger kitchen and a basement.
NCSC to NCFRC
The Norwood Community Service Centre experienced many changes in the 1990’s including:
- renamed the Norwood Child & Family Resource Centre in 1999.
- extending Norwood program boundaries for children who live west to 124th Street, east to 75th Street, north to Yellowhead Trail, and south to the North Saskatchewan River.
- concentration on vision identification, strategic planning, population focus, public education, program evaluations, community identity, marketing, fundraising, and increasing the presence of community volunteers.
- change in programming focus towards children and their families that no longer enabled service provision to the community-at-large.All programs have the support of Family Support Workers whose primary role is to assist families in the provision of:
- NCFRC operates with paid staff and provides programs that strengthen and enrich the lives of parents and children. Programs are delivered using a holistic approach to meet the emotional, physical, educational, and special needs of families in the community.
- family support, information, referrals and advocacy
- leadership with Parent Advisory Committees
- parent support group initiation and implementation to address needs
- home visitation
- crisis intervention
Epilogue: Norwood’s Golden Jubilee
The involvement of parents, community, partners and funders in the process of developing the NCFRC Strategic Business Plan resulted in the removal of geographical boundaries, extended hours for better accessibility for families and the building of leadership and relationships among parents and agency staff.
These activities demonstrate that the community work being continued by NCFRC today is very much connected to similar efforts successfully achieved in the past. Indeed, it is a testament to the vitality of this organization that it is as active today in impacting families in a positive and healthy way as it was at the time of its inception.
The Norwood Child & Family Resource Centre has experienced tremendous growth over the past 50 years. As a board-governed, non-profit agency, NCFRC has had the leadership and guidance of dedicated board members with futuristic insights as to the needs of the children and families in the Edmonton community.