Traffic barriers missing from Wilderness Trace Child Development Center

Published 6:49 pm Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Six large, bright orange, vinyl traffic barriers used to protect young children with special needs as they enter and leave Wilderness Trace Child Development Center are missing.

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Six orange, vinyl traffic barriers are missing from Wilderness Trace Child Development Center. They were used to help keep the children with special needs safe when going to and from the school.

According to WTCDC executive director Libby Suttles, the school had been closed for two weeks during the holidays, but staff had been coming and going during that time. On Saturday, a staff member said the barriers were there. But when the school reopened on Monday, they were gone, Suttles said.

Young children with autism are easily distracted when walking to and from the school. “It’s really, challenging for them. They have impulses,” Suttles explained. The barriers were used as a visual guide for children transitioning to and from the building. They were also a way to keep children in wheelchairs safe from cars and buses, Suttles said.

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When the staff helps students to and from vehicles, “We’re always on our game and especially careful,” Suttles said. And “the barriers created a little safety net for us.”

The vinyl barriers are 80 inches by 42 inches and are weighted so they didn’t blow away, Suttles said. They cost WTCDC $1,000 to purchase last year, which was paid for through a grant.

“We don’t have the money to replace them,” Suttles said. The school is a private-nonprofit agency.

“I am crushed. I think it’s disheartening that we try to create a beautiful school and have safety in place,” Suttles said. “Our kids are more vulnerable.”

Suttles said she hopes whoever took the barriers or who knows what happened to them, will be “gracious and return them.”

Danville Police Captain Chris Matano said there are no suspects but they are continuing to investigate the crime.