A kit of tools designed for kids coming from displaced homes to establish ownership and create safe spaces to call home.
The Belonging Bundle derived from my personal experience of being in foster care, and my struggles with finding a sense of belonging in an unstable environment and a new family. I designed a survival kit that aims to provide kids in similar situations with tools to help cope with the confusing and scary time that is foster care and adoption. The paired installation experience invites guests into a bedroom to make their own, establish control over the space, and to reflect and empathize with what foster kids might be feeling.
How can I design a better way for kids to cope with the uncertainty and fear during a transition into foster care?
The foster care experience is a scary, confusing, and uncertain time for a child. Their childhood is disrupted; homes change, families change, and the future is unknown. This instability can cause kids to develop their own coping mechanisms to deal with this difficult situation. Adults can also face difficulties engaging with foster children and creating a safe, new home for them, and strangers aren't always sure how to engage with adoptees.
By giving the kids the control—and giving them the tools to freely create ownership over their space in order to feel like they belong.
PART 1 - THE SURVIVAL KIT: THE BELONGING BUNDLE
The Belonging Bundle is designed for young kids ages 4-8. Each tool in the kit is a blank canvas for kids to freely write and draw on, establishing ownership over their belongings and surroundings. The kit encourages kids to be creative, own their stories, and find comfort in any place they need to call home.
PART 2 - THE INSTALLATION: THE BELONGING BEDROOM
The Belonging Bedroom invites guests into an unfamiliar, new, cold white bedroom, simulating the experience of a foster child. Like a blank canvas, they are encouraged to grab a marker and draw on every surface of the bedroom, marking their territory, establishing control and ownership over the new space. Through this public engagement, I hope to create empathy for the foster care experience.
I designed and put up posters around the building inviting guests to the bedroom. Signage then instructs guests how to use the room, and to take a survey answering questions like "What does home mean to you?" and "How do you create belonging?".
This project asked me to draw from personal experiences to turn pain into product. Not only did I learn about myself, I also learned how to tackle difficult subjects and I turned unfortunate situations into an opportunity for design. For a quick 2 week project, I was able to quickly mock up works-like models to test with users, and scrap together simple, bare materials into an installation. I hope that the Belonging Bundle and Bedroom raises awareness and empathy for foster care children, and can help make a foster's child transition into a new home a bit more easy and comforting.
Moving forward, I want to use the results from the survey to create a product line extension for different age groups. I think this type of kit would work well for college students experiencing home sickness in their college dorms. I also want to explore different aesthetics to provide several options for kids, such as "Tommy the Turtle" with a floral motif.
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