Students in North Tonawanda High School's Architectural and Engineering Academy recently had an opportunity to present their designs and ideas for play spaces to a panel made up of North Tonawanda city officials and the Lumber City Development Group.
The two groups are looking to put in an application for the Play Everywhere Challenge that is sponsored by KaBoom! and the Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation. The grant awards $720,000 ranging from $10,000 to $80,000 to applicants who come up with great ideas to integrate play in everyday life and unexpected places with the hopes to transform city spaces.
Mike Zimmerman, director of Community Development of North Tonawanda, thought this would be a great opportunity to tap the creativity of Chris Cook's architectural and engineering students.
"We wanted to connect with the high school students to come up with potential designs and ideas of things we could use in our proposal," Zimmerman said.
Director of Parks and Recreation Patty Brosius said they were looking for some unique ideas. "They didn't want normal playgrounds and normal areas like you see around schools. They are looking for little tiny different areas doing unique kind of play engage areas like bus stations, vacant lots or farmers markets. We are looking to see what kinds of ideas the students came up with."
Cook said he was glad that his 25 students were getting this opportunity.
"This is real world, real life opportunity for the kids to present their designs in front of a panel. I told them not to be nervous, this is their idea, take ownership and just believe in it. They have been drawing for three weeks now and now they can talk to someone about their process and research," Cook said.
The students had to come up with a description of their Play Everywhere project, come up with a visual depiction of their idea whether it was drawing, sketching, photomontage or digital render their concept and the location of their project.
Twelfth grader, Jacob Haskell said he stuck with a simple design.
"My site is near train tracks, so I have a metal train that has a platform on the side for the children to play on. There are blocks that lead to a slide and a rock wall and a maze. My vision is that there is metal surrounding it that the area's culture can be engraved in," Haskell said.
Eleventh grader, Keyante Pinter said he wasn't nervous at all when he presented.
"The whole idea was to come up with something different," Pinter said. "You don't want an average park there. I had this idea that kids like to run around and play hide and seek, so that inspired me to build a maze."
All the students did quality work with their presentations and showed off the amount of research they did when they answered questions from the panel on their designs.
"I am very proud of the students," said Cook. "They did a very professional job and I think the panel was very impressed with their ideas."
Jacob Haskell and his presentation for the Play Everywhere Challenge.