Safe Place program offers sanctuary for youths

Nikki McPheron
Mesa Legend

Project Safe Place LogoEvery young person deserves a place where they can feel safe. It is important to inform the youth on places they can go to in times of need. That is why Larry Wooldridge came up with the idea of Safe Place.  Safe Place is an outreach program specifically for adolescents between the ages of 11-17.  “In 1983, Safe Place began as an outreach program of the YMCA Shelter House in Louisville, Kentucky,” said Hillary Ladig, communications specialist for Safe Place. “Access to emergency counseling and shelter for youth was identified as a community need and the YMCA of Greater Louisville found a way to address this issue with the addition of the Safe Place program.” “Basically, youth were calling the shelter for help but could not find transportation to the shelter. This spurred the idea to create Safe Places in the community, which essentially would create multiple front doors to the shelter so that youth could easily access help and safety,” Ladig continued.

Today there are 132 licensed businesses allowed to operate as a Safe Place with more than 19,000 shelters nationwide from libraries to gas stations.  In an interview with social work major Katelyn Michaels, she said, “Safe Place is such a benefit to the community and really allows kids in danger to have a security blanket if they are in need and feel voiceless to being able to receive the proper help they need.”  There are currently 192 locations in Arizona. An individual will know they have made it to a Safe Place if they see a yellow-diamond shaped sign on the outside of a business.  Safe Place is mostly geared towards youth, however, if an adult is in dire need then they will not be turned away. Individuals can learn more about Safe Place by going online to

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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