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New playground serves children in domestic violence shelter

Oct 28, 2016 01:24PM ● Published by Tori La Rue

Community donors pitched in to help a domestic violence shelter install a new playground at its West Jordan facility at the end of September. (Tori La Rue/City Journals)

Gallery: New playground serves children in domestic violence shelter [2 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com 



West Jordan, Utah - Community donors pitched in to help a domestic violence shelter install a new playground at its West Jordan facility at the end of September.

“We want this to be a safe and fun place, and I feel like that means we need a space for kids to be kids,” said Jennifer Campbell, executive director for South Valley Services. “It’s a place not for them to escape their problems but to cope with them.”

As one of the only two domestic violence shelters serving the county, about 300 victims of domestic violence find a temporary home at the South Valley Sanctuary each year. Nearly half of those people are children. On any given day there are 25 to 30 children living at the shelter, according to Campbell. 

The more than 18-year-old, “well-loved and well-worn” playground on the shelter grounds was becoming a safety hazard, but South Valley didn’t have the means to repair or replace it, Campbell said. Salt Lake County, American Express and UPS donated $33,000 for the project. 

“I think doing things like this is an investment in our community,” said Amy Dillon, UPS operations manager. 

Dillion and other UPS employees donated time to South Valley Services in 2015 by spreading bark around the old playground and painting the inside of the shelter. They reached out to South Valley in 2016, asking how they could help again. Campbell was already designing a new playground using donations from Salt Lake County and American Express and welcomed the contributions from Dillon to create a bigger playground. 

“It’s an amazing difference from the old playground,” Dillon said of the new bright yellow and green playground. “It’s nice to see the fruits of our labors.” 

Campbell’s daughter chose the playground colors while she was on a job shadow. Although Campbell was hesitant to choose the light colors, she said she went with her daughter’s opinion since her daughter was the target age for the project. 

“She chose the yellow and green because she said they weren’t dark colors that would make the playground too hot to play on,” Campbell said. 

Campbell, other members of South Valley Services, representatives from the West Jordan Chamber of Commerce, Riverton Mayor Applegarth, West Jordan City Councilman Dirk Burton, West Jordan Police Chief Doug Diamond and representatives from UPS, American Express and Salt Lake County celebrated the installation of the playground with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 29. 

Campbell presented plaques to the donors and shared a brief speech about what the playground would do for those who stay at the South Valley Services shelter. 

“We really try to give them a sense of normalcy,” Campbell said. “This is a nice place that they can be in and know that the community cares.” 

The yellow and green playground is the newest addition to the shelter’s yard which also includes a playground for small children, a sensory garden and a pathway on which children can ride bikes, scooters and skateboards. 

“I think anything they can add to make it more like home makes it more comfortable for the children and the parents as well,” Applegarth said at the ribbon cutting. “I support it.” 

In addition to the South Valley Shelter for those in high-risk domestic violence situations, South Valley Services also has community resource centers at Riverton City Hall, West Jordan City Hall, West Valley City Hall, West Valley City Library and Kearns Library. The centers assist individuals who are in domestic violence situations by providing appropriate resources to meet their needs and goals on a case by case basis. The centers also offer free healthy relationship classes to anyone in the community.

For emergency shelter or general questions, call South Valley Services’ 24-hour hotline at 801-255-1095 

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