SALT LAKE CITY — A solid white fence replaced the chain link around the Road Home shelter's playground on Saturday and will soon become the canvas for about 200 children who live there.
About 100 volunteers worked on the project, which is a partnership involving the shelter, Salt Lake City and organizations like the Sorenson Unity Center.
A mural was painted on the exterior of the fence and includes a map of nearby homeless services.
The children will get to paint the interior of the fence over the coming months, said Michelle Flynn, associate executive director of the shelter.
"We want to give the kids the most pleasant environment possible," she said. "We want them to feel warm, safe and cozy."
While the chain link fence has kept children safe from traffic over the years, it has not shielded them from some of the more unpleasant events that can play out in the busy downtown area, including assaults, drug deals or car accidents.
The solid fence will help the children feel like they are in their own backyard, Flynn added.
Elizabeth Buhler, Salt Lake City's homeless services coordinator, said the project includes about $15,000 in funding from the city. But she stressed the real heroes are the dozens upon dozens of volunteers who gave up their Saturday to lend a hand. Those people include city employees, students from LDS Business College and groups from the unity center.
"Anything we can do to create a positive impact is what we are aiming for," she said.
Chris Peterson, director of the Sorenson Unity Center, said patrons of the center will also get a chance to dip their hand in the paint and leave a print on the fence — sort of a way to instill their own personal touch on their temporary living quarters.
"This is a community center, a gathering place," Peterson said. "To me, this shows the city does care."
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