A newly renovated room at PACE in Grande Prairie is helping make youth feel more comfortable during a tough situation. United Way Alberta Northwest has renovated the centre’s safe visitation room to make it more inviting for the people using it.

Safe Visitation Program Coordinator Marlene Iversen says before the renovations the room was small, plain, and children didn’t like going there but that’s now changed.

“Children had commented that they didn’t like coming downstairs and the reason was simply that we have a beautiful centre called the Caribou Centre and the colour difference and the welcoming difference was quite different and now they’re enjoying coming in here.”

The safe visitation room was created to provide supervised visits for families going through the court system where there is a high risk of family violence between parents or family members.

Iversen says the staff tried to make the room look better on their own but they never had enough money to do any major changes until the United Way volunteered. At no cost to PACE, they came in and repainted the room, added a tv and gaming system, and added decorations that make it feel more like a living room.

She says she’s so appreciative of all the work the United Way put in and believes it will make a huge difference.

“I just want them to know how their kindness has really impacted down here and it will impact the children that come through the door… We will have some new children coming in here as of Saturday so just the impact of them walking into a place that feels safe.”

Around 300 to 400 children use the safe visitation space per year.