Photos by Rebecca Miller
Building on the success of their upcycling partnership in the fall, civil engineering students at Ohio University’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology developed a new design for a child’s art center that will be raffled off by the Ohio University Child Development Center (CDC) using the center’s old cribs that had been headed to the landfill.
The art centers provide a dedicated space for a child to sit for reading, play and coloring within reach of the optional attachments for holding creative tools. Built with parts from baby cribs the CDC had to remove because they no longer meet federal safety guidelines, the desktop features a white board and the end walls can be converted into chalkboards for more creative surfaces. Buyers can also request cork board be added to one of the end walls.
The prototype, which is the latest of three upcycled crib designsby the student chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers, was offered to CDC parents over the holidays for a minimum donation of $50 to benefit the CDC’s programming.
"The students listened to what we needed and were able to develop interesting structures that met our needs,” said Terry Swank, assistant director of the CDC. “They were very engaged throughout the process, making sure they were developing structures what were developmental appropriate for the children they were working with.”
Senior Sarah Koska, community service coordinator for the ASCE student group, said it feels great to be starting a new chapter of the re-purposing project after the success of the art easels and sensory tunnels they designed last year from the crib parts.
“Everyone involved is very excited about this portion, and we are all very happy to help out the CDC,” she said. “It gives us the opportunity to give back while we get to be creative and problem solve as we build these various items for them.”
The student org has plans for even more designs, including play tents, private play spaces, a ball pit, and a climbing play set in order to provide a steady flow of new toys for the CDC.
ASCE student members also perform service work outside of the university community, such as a semesterly highway cleanup on Route 33 and participating in YES day at a nearby college that involves young children in STEM education activities.
Koska said the crib project is important for her because of the special partnership with a group that benefits children in a special way.
“You can plant flowers, run food drives, and do highway cleanup and those are all very beneficial and great projects, but to be able to collaborate with CDC is very unique and both sides have benefited greatly from this project.”