Jocelyn Hill, parent coach at Family Centre West, did not expect to encounter a scene of vandalism at the Family Centre outdoor play area . 

Family Centre West is a non-profit organization providing youth and families with programs, resources, and connections that westside community members enjoy utilizing. 

“I noticed our shovels were out. There was like a big hole dug up in the middle of the ground… One of the chair legs was kind of broken off. And then mostly it was just like toys and stuff just kind of thrown around everywhere. But then, further investigation, I saw that there’s a hole cut in the fence,” said Hill.

Hill discovered the vandalism around 8:30 a.m. on Monday. She noted nothing was stolen, just the outdoor toys thrown around, and she is unsure if the vandalism was due to youth having fun.

“It doesn’t look like anything was taken. I think they just came in and just messed everything up. So, I’m not sure if it was teenagers or kids just thinking they’re having fun.”

Family Centre West executive director, Maral Kiani Tari, said Family Centre West operates as a non-profit, and the financial cost of the damage is hurtful to the organization. She said if anyone witnessed the vandalism, to report it and asks the community to keep an eye out to prevent future vandalism.

The fencing around the outdoor play area of Family Centre West will need a whole sectionto be replaced.

Kiani Tari noted the community on the westside enjoys the facility and it has become a home for many.

“The west side, it has been an incredible community in owning that place and kind of making it their own. It’s quite neat to see it from my various different locations that the neighbourhood really does love the Family Centre there, and they kind of feel like that’s their home.”

Kiani Tari said it would be a big help to have community support and she  appreciates any support community members may have. She said she hopes this situation spreads awareness in the community – if this is something done out of boredom, it affects the community negatively.

“If this is done out of boredom, or if it’s done out of just mischievous thoughts, it costs the community money, it costs organizations like ourselves who rely on very, very tight budget money, it affects it affects the mood it affects environment and families who utilize this space but there is no there’s no purpose in doing what has been done.”

Despite the vandalism Hill was met with, the day continued with the planned activities for the children. Kiani Tari said Family Centre West and programming are still in full operation.

“It doesn’t really stop us, Family Centre. We’re very resilient. Our staff are resilient, and our programs are resilient. So, I want the community to know that it doesn’t stop anything on our programming. We are in full force.”

Family Centre West has made a police report; it encourages anyone who may have witnessed the vandalism or know any information to report it to either Family Centre West or Lethbridge Police Service.

By Steffanie Costigan, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 20, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Lethbridge Herald    Lethbridge, Alberta

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