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New playroom in memory of Nathan O’Brien opens at Calgary Children’s Cottage

New playroom opens in memory of murdered Calgary boy
WATCH: A new playroom has opened at the Calgary Children's Cottage in memory of five-year-old Nathan O'Brien who was killed along with his grandparents in 2014. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.

A new playroom has opened at the Calgary Children’s Cottage funded by the Nathan O’Brien Children’s Foundation.

Children who stay at the Calgary Children’s Cottage come all backgrounds, but what they have in common is that their parents are going through some kind of crisis.

“When parents become overwhelmed, the chances of abuse or neglect are greater,” said Janet Hettler, manager of the crisis nursery and respite programs at the Children’s Cottage. “We are preventing that abuse from happening in the first place.

“The parents are given time away from their child so they can focus on the crisis and help decrease that stress.”

Now the children who stay at the Children’s Cottage have a renovated playroom, complete with new toys and activities to help with motor skills. It’s been funded through the Nathan O Brien Children’s Foundation.

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READ MORE: Triple-murderer Douglas Garland seeks to have convictions overturned; appeal court reserves decision

“We remember when we needed assistance with the loss of Nathan and our family,” said Rod O’Brien, Nathan’s father. “It reminds us that there are many people that need assistance all the time out there, especially children — they don’t know what’s going on or why they’re in pain.”

Nathan had just finished kindergarten when he died.

Douglas Garland, the man who killed Nathan and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathy Liknes, was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for at least 75 years.

READ MORE: Family of Nathan O’Brien launches children’s foundation with $1 million donation

Nathan’s parents know what it’s like to experience trauma and say it is important parents get all the support they can.

“Just through our experiences over life, we know sometimes parents need a break.

“Human beings need support on how to transition from one bad time and to get going again in a balanced way,” Rod said.

“We are quite happy to think of Nathan and all the children we’ve seen come through this room in the few times we’ve been here. Every day it is filled up with children. It’s a room that’s being used heavily.”

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The door to the playroom is adorned with a painting of Nathan in his favourite superhero costume.

“I think the artist that did it did an amazing job and just knowing that he’s the first thing the children get to see and having his legacy and being able to talk about him and keep his memory alive with all the children that come through the door, for us that is everything,” Nathan’s mom Jennifer said.

The Nathan O’Brien Children’s Foundation has also funded a playground at the EvenStart Child Development Centre in Mayland Heights.

WATCH (July 28, 2017): A new Calgary playground gives new hope to the family of a little boy, murdered with his grandparents in a crime that shocked the city. Nathan O’Brien was just five and his parents are determined to turn their nightmare into something positive. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the playground will give high risk kids better opportunities.

New Calgary playground named for murdered Calgary boy aims to help high risk kids
New Calgary playground named for murdered Calgary boy aims to help high risk kids