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Children poked by needles in Vernon daycare playground

Stash of drug paraphernalia discovered by kids, despite safety checks

A group of children discovered several needles in their daycare playground recently, with some of them being poked.

Kids at Maven Lane’s Vernon location found a stash of narcotic paraphernalia hidden in the playground Friday, Jan. 6.

Staff said four needles were discovered and while they were believed to be clean, the children harmed are being tested.

“Unfortunately, in this instance, the children decided to investigate themselves rather than tell an adult. This led to children being inadvertently poked by needles,” Maven Lane said in a letter to families. “This discovery has been traumatizing for parents and staff alike. We cannot express our regret enough, and we remain hopeful that there are no long-term repercussions to this incident.”

The children that were poked have been tested and are awaiting results.

Despite morning grounds inspections by staff at the daycare, this batch of needles was cleverly hidden, according to the letter.

“We are acutely aware that our location is in a low socio-economic neighbourhood, close to an outreach facility, and on a thoroughfare to the city centre. We have come to expect unwelcome visitors and we have practices in place to manage their effect.

“Most days there is something to tidy up. We have cleaned up needles, feces, homemade weapons, backpack contents, shopping cart contents, garbage, drugs, clothing; you name it, we’ve cleaned it up. If overnight guests are still here when we arrive in the morning, we politely ask them to move on, as the children will soon be arriving. Often this polite request is sufficient, but we have faced great aggression; anything from abusive language to full-scale arson as an act of revenge.”

Maven Lane has even hired a security company which performs staggering visits seven days a week, installed surveillance cameras and night lighting and has a good relationship with neighbours who regularly report suspicious behaviour.

“We feel our team did their due diligence. Even if we had prevented this incident, we cannot guarantee there won’t be more ‘holes’ in the future. What we can do is better educate the children. We are currently expanding our safety check policy to actively involve the children in daily checks as well as involving them in the ‘reporting’ of findings - giving them more agency in the process and a feeling of empowerment when it comes to ensuring safety.”

But the situation is concerning.

“Our children should not be paying the price for the community’s safety issues. We don’t expect to live in a city that never has any danger, but the frequency and level of danger that we face every day is not acceptable.”

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Jennifer Smith

About the Author: Jennifer Smith

Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004.
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