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Betwixt and Between. How Industrial Design Can Be Used to Help Teens Feel Part of Society More

Posted Feb 13 2013 6:40am
A basketball court. Koi pond. Golf putting green. Model trains. Live birds. A hands-on teaching garden filled with herbs and vegetables*. Multi-sensual and kinesthetic surprises everywhere that have you continually saying, "Wow--look at this!" Colorful, high-quality "touch-me" building materials from the lobby to the elevators to the bright and airy cafeteria that not only appeal to children but feel elegant and inviting to teens and adults as well. Welcome to my surprisingly interesting outing yesterday.

Industrial design firms, in conjunction with the medical profession, have increasingly enhanced the "hospital environment" to address the "whole child" and his or her family and create a diverse, psychologically-uplifting experience. If we as a society can make these kinds of changes in our children's hospitals (and I hear that there is a LEED-certified branch of my metro-area's hospital system as well, which I have yet to visit), my goodness, what is possible in the rest of our industrial environments? Who wouldn't want to work somewhere where your whole person has been considered?  Who wouldn't want to patronize such a place if it were a retail environment, or enjoy innovative public amenities in a city while out and about? (Have you seen this public toilet ??)

I am genuinely excited about the potential for our society, in so many ways, that I saw exhibited at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite yesterday. And to have a child who is not scared to go to the hospital because she has such positive impressions of it?  Priceless.

The problem, of course, happens when you become a teen and start "aging out" of the children's hospital because the expertise you need lives across the street at the "grownup" hospital. We had that experience yesterday as well, and although the care was equally excellent "across the street," the way we felt was not. I found myself thinking of my dear friend, Mindy**, the executive director of the U.S. branch of a United Kingdom-based charity (supported by Roger Daltry and Pete Townshend of the WHO through their initiative, Who Cares) who is working to add teen units to children's hospitals nationwide, and currently has a pilot unit at the UCLA Health Care System.

I thought about teens in general in our society, and how there are so few places for them. They are not children. They are not adults. They have distinct needs. And including them in the conversation more about industrial design could truly change their lives (as patients, citizens, and consumers as well as future workers)--and the world--for the better. 

* Here is my video showing the teaching garden at the Children's Hospital of Atlanta at Scottish Rite:
Strong4Life Teaching Garden at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite from Pattie Baker on Vimeo .

** To read more about Mindy, see my blog post about her (scroll down to the bottom half of the post) here.

Other semi-related posts: 
Move Over. The Kids Have Arrived.  

Teens Needed! Please Apply.

The Problem with My TOMS Shoes, and with Cities That Aren't Paying Attention to What the Next 
Generation Is Choosing

Keep FoodShed Planet coming! Click here . 
eclectic food-for-thought for a changing world
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