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Tired-a-Lot

Spring Break Camp 2018

By Rebecca Stockert

Fort Wayne Reader

2018-04-05


Tired-a-Lot has nothing to do with fatigue and everything to do with community development and empowering young people. The camp, now in its second year, teaches teens how to use design thinking, upcycled materials, and their own talent to transform neighborhoods. Tired-a-Lot means using upcycled materials (like abandoned tires) to activate vacant lots. Tired-a-Lot (get it?)

The mantra for the camp is “See it. Believe it. Achieve it.” It revolves around the idea of human-centered design thinking. Réna Bradley, brainchild of the program and Community Development Coordinator at Bridge of Grace CMC, was awarded a Knight Cities Challenge in 2016 for Tired-A-Lot. The Knight Foundation distributed $5 million to 37 communities across the nation, with Bridge of Grace snagging a piece of the pie for Tired-A-Lot.

Last summer, volunteers with Tired-A-Lot installed a obstacle course made of reclaimed materials (mostly used tires and pallets) on the corner of Gaywood Drive and East Fairfax Avenue. The area was a vacant lot across the street from Bridge of Grace CMC before being transformed in a public space for neighbors to enjoy. Now, the lot is full of brightly-colored structures made for climbing, swings, and even a chalkboard for visitors to play with words or images on. The obstacle course is open to all residents of city and everyone is encouraged to visit.

This spring, Tired-A-Lot campers Gabe, Larissa, and Sydney are working to create a public mural that responds to the Mount Vernon Park neighborhood. Over the course of the spring break week, Bradley walks them through creating a work of art using design process principles (Ideation-Inspiration-Implementation-Investigation). She helps them with understanding challenges, developing solutions, and implementing them.

Each camper brings their own strengths to project that contribute to the project’s overall success. Gabe, a thinker and connector, Larissa, an activist at heart, and Sydney, with strong drawing and conceptual skills, work together creating a fully rendered piece for the community.

Bradley explains: “If you can identify a challenge, you can create a solution. If you can create a solution, you can do something about that initial challenge. We want our kids to know they grow and change, that their communities can grow, evolve, and change, and that they can be the change agents.”

Design thinking, Bradley says, helps people to stop feeling like they are bound to their circumstances. Instead, they can see challenges as opportunities for change, and do something about it. Part of her mission for the Tired-A-Lot camp is to instill in young people a sense of their potential, talent, and ability to be change-makers. She says: “If you can switch the mentality that life is something that happens to you, to life is something you create and shape, it gives you different sense of agency, a different sense of optimism, and a different sense of responsibility.”

Tired-A-Lot camp is meant to cultivate local talent, of which Bradley knows the city has plenty. Through her work in community development, she has met many talented, bright, and sharp young minds. Rather than reaching out to “attract talent” from other cities, she knows we have much of what we need right here, ready to be activated. The camp is one way in which we can improve our community through resources we already have by fostering local abilities and encouraging civic engagement.

Spring Break camp happened the week of April 2nd, 2018, but students can still apply to participate in the summer camp that runs June 11 - July 13, 2018. The summer camp is valued at $750. With the help of the Knight Cities Challenge grant, the fee is waived for accepted applicants.

Students interested in applying to summer design camp can visit https://tiredalot.weebly.com for an application.

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