WESTMORELAND COUNTY COURTHOUSE COMFORT ROOM
Westmoreland Children First spearheaded a project to transform a sterile waiting room in the Westmoreland County Courthouse into a stress-relieving playroom for children and youth awaiting court appearances.
Such court appearances and legal decisions are related to, but not limited to, child custody, protection from abuse, delinquency, and probation. At-risk children are at their most vulnerable during these times of uncertainty and instability in their lives.
The Community Foundation of Westmoreland County provided a $4,000 grant to subsidize the project. The purpose of the grant was to help support the physical, social, environmental, and emotional needs of the most vulnerable populations in Westmoreland County.
Transformation of the waiting room involved art students from Westmoreland County Community College, who designed and installed imaginative, interactive wall murals in the waiting room and in Master Monique Mears' hearing room. These students were under the direction of Kathy Mendes Dlugos, Chairman of the Art Department, and Bernie Wilke, Adjunct Professor of Art Special Topics.
In addition to wall murals, the room contains a play area with a colorful rug, children's tables and chairs, and shelves loaded with children's books, toys, stuffed animals, and games for children to play with and take home. There are also permanently secured electronic tablets with preloaded children's games and videos.
Contributions to the project included Lyndsay Winfield, who collected materials for the room and helped assemble the furniture as her senior project at Jeannette Senior High School, and CLASP (Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania), which helps clients resolve disputes without going to court and whose members donated books and stuffed animals.