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CoreChange: Using the Design Process as an Intervention with At-risk Youth

During a 4-week pilot workshop, volunteers worked with middle school children from urban group homes to teach them about design thinking in context of their future occupations. Each week volunteers from Core Change met for 3 hours and worked on a different small project that advanced the children through another step of the design process. We used a variety of mediums, including collage, iPads, mindmaps, drawing, and writing to keep them engaged and accommodate different skill levels.

The pilot was our first attempt at approaching this at-risk population with a creative intervention. It was a relatively short workshop, but proved to be a very successful experience with the group. We were told by guardians and probation officers that the group is typically unresponsive and unemotional, but through the course of the project it was evident that methods and mediums were beginning to open up communications.

We are currently discussing future iterations of the workshop with the juvenile court system. The court sees design thinking as a valuable skill set to teach youth, possibly one that can intervene with the detention cycle. They also see the workshops as a potential tool for new evaluation methods for councilors and probation officers.