Interior Design students at Cape Fear Community College transform living spaces for children with life-altering conditions
Last month, 17 students in the Interior Design program at Cape Fear Community College completed their capstone project – to transform the bedroom, bathroom, and play area for two young boys with unique healthcare needs.
The project is the result of a collaboration that began last summer between the College and Welcome Home Angel, a nonprofit organization in Wilmington that brings joy to children with significant health or life-altering conditions by creating more functional living spaces.
The project started in January as students were given case statements of the two children they would serve: 9-year-old Dominick and 7-year-old Dax.
Dominick faces challenges associated with autism and sensory processing disorder while Dax faces challenges associated with autism, down syndrome, and vision and hearing loss.
Students were asked to address specific needs in their bedrooms, bathrooms, and play areas such as safer furniture, creative storage solutions, blackout curtains, grab bars, a sensory wall, adding traction to the bathroom floor, and overall, creating more soothing spaces that cater to their sensory needs.
“Not only were we able to use what we have learned in our classes, such as space planning, color theory, and digital presentations, we were also able to observe something that can't be shown within those four walls - bringing the project to life,” said Elizabeth Mann, Interior Design student.
“We were able to learn about Dax and Dom's needs within the spaces, their favorite colors, animals, and much more. We took that information and collaborated together to create a project that was catered toward our angel. Seeing their faces during the big reveal of their rooms was absolutely bittersweet. To know you were able to enhance their quality life by doing something you are truly passionate about is something I hope to encounter again and again.”
After three months of hard work, the new spaces were revealed to Dax and Dom in April.
“We spent many hours brainstorming, problem solving, painting, hanging wallpaper, arranging and assembling furniture, and placing accessories that made the space theirs,” Mann said. “Being able to be hands on to bring our planned vision to life was a great real-world experience in this field.”
Beth Hood, Director of the Interior Design program at Cape Fear, said she hopes the College will continue working with Welcome Home Angel in the future to give more students this unique opportunity to use their design skills in a real-life situation.
“Watching my students use the skills that they have worked so hard to develop brings me so much joy. Using those skills to help someone in need here in our community has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of my time here at Cape Fear, and I absolutely love it,” Hood said.
The changes students made to the boys’ rooms make their daily routines easier, promote growth, and provide sensory regulation.
“It has been less than a week and we are already seeing so many positive changes in him. He really loves all the new spaces so much,” said Dominick’s mother.
Learn more about the Interior Design program at Cape Fear Community College.