Little kids, big design: How future designers wish NOLA a happy tricentennial

This article originally appeared on AIGA New Orleans.

What do you get when you take a room full of 20 rambunctious elementary schoolers plus 20 professional designers and throw in a challenge to wish New Orleans a Happy 300th Birthday?

We found out on Wednesday, October 7th, before the AIGA Design Conference. Local New Orleans design education non-profit, PlayBuild, partnered with AIGA and the AIGA New Orleans chapter to host a Design Career Day at KIPP Central City Primary School, a K-4th grade elementary school in a neighborhood a short distance from downtown.

Volunteers and instructors from PlayBuild and after-school partner DiscoveryFEST were on hand along with AIGA national and local team members to facilitate the afternoon of show-and-tell and hands-on design activities.

Design educator Jacinda Walker facilitated the afternoon, which was designed to both allow the kids to meet and greet future career role models as well as present them with a hands-on Design Challenge.

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Speed networking with design leaders

Four local designers—Justin Shiels, Derin Lindsey, Reba Joy Billips, and Brandon Washington—were joined by chair of the national AIGA Diversity & Inclusion Task Force Antionette Carroll from Saint Louis, to host small group “speed dating” sessions with the KIPP-sters. Each gave a short presentation about their background and career path, with each one sharing images and examples of their past and current work through slide presentations and materials for show and tell.

How do you wish a city happy birthday?

For the “real world” Design Challenge, we were also joined by Jeremy Cooker, VP of Marketing for New Orleans Tourism & Marketing, who briefed the kids on the City’s upcoming Tricentennial and the plans underway to celebrate New Orleans’ 300th birthday. Jeremy and Jacinda presented the Tricentennial Design Challenge: “How can you explain the New Orleans Tricentennial to your friends, and what can you create to show how important it is?”

Volunteers from a diverse array of backgrounds including companies like Facebook and Marriott and institutions like Johns Hopkins coached the kids through the exercise and helped them present their work to the group at the end.

Thanks to all who took part in this inspiring afternoon including local pizzeria Reginelli’s whose contribution enabled us to cap off the afternoon with a pizza party for our newly minted designers, and big kudos to the team at KIPP Central City Primary Academy who allowed us to host this enriching experience for the kids.

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For more photos of the event, check out the Facebook album.