Westland Library offers a ‘safe place’ for youths in need

The Westland Area Library is now a designated Safe Place in the central Ohio community. The building will display the yellow and black Safe Place sign, which signifies immediate help and safety for youth.

It is estimated over one million youth run away from home each year due to abuse, neglect, family conflicts and other issues. The Safe Place program is an option for young people who feel they have nowhere to turn.

Columbus’ Safe Place initiative, operated by Huckleberry House, is part of a national network of Safe Place programs in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Nearly 20,000 community businesses and organizations nationwide display the Safe Place sign, making help readily available for youth in need.

“Our youth often find themselves at our local libraries, and adding Westland Area Library as a Safe Place site expands Huckleberry House’s front porch to keep our Columbus youth safe,” said Becky Westerfelt, executive director of Huckleberry House.

Michele Lowe, assistant director of Westland Area Library, said, “Westland Area Library has been a vital part of the far westside community for many years, and this is another way the library can serve the vulnerable, improve lives, and help make the community a better place.”

Huckleberry House is central Ohio’s Safe Place agency and has 84 partner sites, including the Prairie Township Community Center, Prairie Township’s administrative building, and Prairie Township Fire Station. In addition to Safe Place sites, youth may also access immediate help via TXT 4 HELP, a text-for-support service for youth in crisis. Teens can text the word “safe” and their current location (address, city, state) to 69866 and receive a message with the closest Safe Place location and the number for the local youth shelter. Users also have the option to text interactively with a mental health professional for more help.

To learn more, visit www.huckhouse.org or www.swpl.org.

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