De­sign event for kids to sup­ply 42,000 meals

Post-Tribune - - Post-tribune local - BY MICHAEL GON­ZA­LEZ Post-Tri­bune cor­re­spon­dent

VAL­PARAISO —Al­most 100 area kids learned how to work to­gether, de­signed ways to turn thou­sands of cans of food into su­per­hero em­blems Fri­day and helped sup­ply 42,000 meals to hun­gry fam­i­lies through­out North­west In­di­ana.

Ten groups, from YMCAs and YWCAs to Cam­pagna Academy and Boys and Girls Clubs, packed class­rooms at Ivy Tech Com­mu­nity’s Col­lege’s Val­paraiso cam­pus for the de­sign camp phase of Canstruc­tion, a na­tional char­ity spon­sored by the So­ci­ety of De­sign Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­signed to ease some of the hunger plagu­ing parts of the coun­try.

This is the first time Canstruc­tion has come to the area, said Angie Wil­liams, the Lake Area United Way’s Di­rec­tor of Com­mu­nity Im­pact, and one of the driv­ing forces be­hind the event.

“We picked su­per­heroes be­cause we tend to think heroes are some­one we see in comic books or on TV,” Wil­liams said. “But, these kids are su­per­heroes be­cause they’re giv­ing of their time, en­ergy and them­selves to help the greater good, to be­lieve they can do some­thing to change the world.”

The Lake Area and Porter County United Ways teamed up with U.S. Rep. Pete Vis­closky, D-Mer­ril­lville, to make it hap­pen in­stead of a nor­mal food drive. The canned goods will go the Food Bank of North­west In­di­ana and food pantries.

With di­rec­tion from coaches, en­gi­neers or en­gi­neer­ing stu­dents, the teams used pho­tos, graph pa­per and col­ored pen­cils to de­sign the em­blems. Next, those de­signs will be sub­mit­ted to Pur­due Univer­sity Calumet’s Cen­ter for In­no­va­tion Through Vi­su­al­iza­tion and Simulation, where they will be con­verted to three-di­men­sional de­signs.

The teams will work with Pur­due stu­dents and pro­fes­sors to de­ter­mine if their de­signs will work.

The fi­nal step will be a day-long com­pe­ti­tion July 25 at South­lake Mall.

Each team has up to $2,500 in cans to work with, paid for by lo­cal cor­po­ra­tions, in­clud­ing En­bridge Inc., the Scher­erville-based en­ergy com­pany, or BMW Con­struc­tors in Mun­ster, but more help is needed, Wil­liams said.

Af­ter the July com­pe­ti­tion, the canned food will be turned into the thou­sands of meals.

Along with de­sign­ing su­per­hero de­sign us­ing dif­fer­ent sizes and colors of cans, the teams had to re­main within a bud­geted amount of money to make it hap­pen.

Aaron Reist, 14, of Portage, and his Boy Scout Troop 456 planned out the Avengers em­blem, a black-and-white de­sign fea­tur­ing a cap­i­tal “A” in a semi-cir­cle.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to grasp the con­cept of how you’re go­ing to build it,” Reist said. “It teaches us a lot about bud­get­ing, as well, and it teaches how you can’t al­ways do what you want be­cause you may not have enough money to do it.”

Am­ber John­son, 13, of Gary, who will be a fresh­man at Wirt-Emer­son Vis­ual and Per­form­ing Arts in the fall, said the fun part will come when the teams ac­tu­ally start mov­ing cans into a de­sign.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence,” she said, while work­ing on a sheet of graph pa­per. “Ev­ery­one has to work to­gether to make it hap­pen. It’s not so hard if ev­ery­one co­op­er­ates”

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