Details for Western Slope Center for Children

A reader information feature brought to you
by the Center for Children and The Daily Sentinel

Center for Children works to uplift the lives of
children that have suffered trauma
Penny Stine

Sentinel Special Sections



hen the Center for Children gets
involved in the life of a child, it’s not
because the child has won a lifetime
supply of sunshine and rainbows. The Center
is a recently nationally re-accredited child
advocacy group center (CAC) that works with
children who are suspected victims of sexual
abuse, serious physical abuse and for children
who may have witnessed a violent crime.
In spite of the serious and life-altering
nature of what it does, the Center doesn’t want
to have a sad, dark or frightening image in the
community. Instead, it wants to be known as a
place of hope and healing. For safety reasons,
and because of the sensitive nature of its work,
the Center doesn’t necessarily want to bring
more awareness to its physical location or the
clients and children it serves.
“We want to do more within the community to bring awareness of what we do,” said
Mistalynn Meyeraan, the executive director for
the Center.
One of the goals of the Center is to prevent
child abuse, and prevention occurs when people are aware of the Center’s existence and are
familiar with the typical signs of abuse.
“We want people to be aware and vigilant
regarding the safety and well-being of children,
especially in the summertime when those
many mandatory reporters are not around
children,” Meyeraan said.
In addition to preventing abuse, the Center
hopes to uplift the community through its
work; helping victims to not only survive but
who thrive as happy, well-adjusted members of
the community. The Center worked with a marketing firm to create a hot air balloon image
that represented the Grand Valley, and the Center’s work, to uplift the the lives of those whose
lives are impacted by abuse and violence. The
final image of the balloon was deliberately left
black and white, and the Center has sponsored
coloring contests with children to color it in
and bring it to life, while also bringing awareness of the Center’s purpose. Meyeraan also
wanted to display the image in a prominent
place in the community where it would remind
people of the Center’s goals and mission.
“I first reached out to downtown Grand
Junction in search of a partner in art,” said
Meyeraan. “Through Grand Junction Creates
and the Grand Junction Commission on Arts
and Culture, my search landed me at a perfect
space outside of the Central Library.”
Mesa County Public Library is part of the
creative district, and supports local art and
artists in a variety of ways, including its
artist-in-residency program and the numerous
displays by local artists inside the building.
The outside of the library building, however, is
a bit on the bland side.

“We wanted to add art on the exterior to connect with the creative district,” said Michelle
Boisvenue-Fox, the library director. “We had
already had a pre-conversation on another
mural with the creative district.”
The Downtown Development District connected Meyeraan to Boisvenue-Fox, and once
the two directors started the conversation, they
realized that the library and the Center shared
many goals of helping children and providing
a safe place. It was a good match made even
better, since the library had contacts with
many local artists, and had previously worked
with the Center’s chosen artist, Pavia Justinian, who had been an artist-in-residence at
the library and who has done other public art
around town.
“It was a great project,” said Justinian.
“Even though someone created the design, I
was able to put my own spin on it.”
It took a few weeks for Justinian to create the
mural, which depicts many iconic Grand Valley
items, such as peaches, bicycles, Mt. Garfield,
Colorado National Monument and the Colorado
River. It’s also an image of hope and light, with
the sun shining over it all, and the logo used by
the Center For Children on the basket.
“We can talk and talk about preventing child
abuse,” said Meyeraan, “but people respond to
a visual aid differently.”
The Center is planning to include a plaque
that will give more information to library
patrons, but in the meantime, it hopes that the
image will remind people that child abuse is
also an issue here in the Grand Valley, but with
intervention and treatment, there is hope and