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YSS Celebrates Groundbreaking of New Youth Recovery Campus

From right to left: RDG’s Matt Valerio, Molly Hanson, Yuri Bloomer, and Naura Godar stand with representatives from YSS and Woodruff Construction at the groundbreaking event.
From right to left: RDG’s Matt Valerio, Molly Hanson, Yuri Bloomer, and Naura Godar stand with representatives from YSS and Woodruff Construction at the groundbreaking event.
Residential cabins on campus provide housing, caseworker offices, and therapy spaces. (Rendering courtesy of RDG Planning & Design)
Residential cabins on campus provide housing, caseworker offices, and therapy spaces. (Rendering courtesy of RDG Planning & Design)
CAMBRIDGE, IA — Designed in collaboration with RDG Planning & Design, the Ember Youth Recovery Campus will serve as a nature-based, holistic treatment center for youths and young adults from across Iowa.

YSS recently broke ground on Ember, its new $20-million recovery campus near Cambridge, Iowa. Among attendees to the groundbreaking included Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, Sen. Joni Ernst, Rep. Randy Feenstra, donors and representatives from RDG Planning & Design and Woodruff Construction. The campus, which is being designed by RDG, spans 50 acres and once complete, will provide 70 beds for emergency shelter, crisis stabilization, and residential addiction treatment for Iowa youths and young adults.

“This is Ember, a small glowing fragment of fire that when cared and nurtured can be revived. Ember reminds families and youth there is always hope, always enough fire in their hearts to overcome life’s challenges,” said Andrew Allen, President and CEO of YSS.

Nestled in a wooded area in Story County, the vision for Ember is centered around trauma-informed design and encompasses a main building, cabins, and outdoor recreational spaces. The campus’ main building will offer a welcome center, family visit room, offices, classrooms, gathering spaces, a fitness center, and a cafe and kitchen while the surrounding cabins provide bedrooms alongside caseworker offices and areas for group therapy and activities.

Using the surrounding environment, stability and recovery will be holistic and nature-based complementing YSS’ other programs. Once completed, Ember will provide hope and opportunity to struggling children and families.

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“Utilizing RDG’s multidisciplinary team, the campus design weaves landscape architecture and site design throughout the interior of the building using large windows and framed views,” said RDG Senior Partner Naura Godar, AIA, WELL, AP. “Ember’s mission to heal through nature-based therapies will be well suited to the facility that has biophilic elements, daylighting deep within the building, and elements both interior and exterior that allow for students to make independent choices. From large movements to meditative spaces, the team has developed space that enhances trauma-informed therapy and design.”

Ember is scheduled to be completed in spring 2024.

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