Standing on a stage receiving an honourary degree was the last place Sheldon Kennedy thought he’d be; but Thursday Kennedy was awarded a Bachelor of Child Studies and Child and Youth Care from Mount Royal University.

Kennedy, lead director of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, said this was for all the kids who don’t feel they can be what they want to be.

“It represents hope and hopefully it will allow other kids that are going through similar negative things in their life that they can be who they want to be and for me, more than for Sheldon, it’s for the issues we represent and for the kids that are out there that we can reach.”

Kennedy turned his attention to the graduating class telling them they will be working in an area where people don’t understand there is hope.

“I think it’s critical that we won’t ever give up. I think Mount Royal has given you the tools to understand children and families that may be struggling,” says Kennedy. “ I look out here today and I think we’ve done a lot of work with all of you students. We’ve learned a lot from all of you students at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre. I think what a gift we have with all of you entering the workplace to help people and what a gift that is to be in a position to help others.”

The Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre has 125 kids come through its doors every month and Kennedy says it’s a gift to be able to help them turn their lives around and reminded the graduates that life and working with children is all about relationships and reaching out and to not be afraid to ask questions.

The Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre opened its doors in Northwest Calgary in February 2013 and brings together more than 95 professionals to support children, youth and families impacted by child physical and sexual abuse to put an end to the abuse.