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Design Ignites Change

Graphic Design students at the University of Tennessee spent the semester mentoring Art students at Central High, a local public school in Fountain City, TN. This mentorship program is a component of Design Ignites Change, an initiative conceived by World Studio and Adobe Youth Voices. The goal of the initiative is to promote and encourage high school students to develop projects that will benefit their own communities while giving them a voice around important social issues. The students identified 5 major Themes & Teams for the semester.

University of Tennessee Students:

Conrad Burry

Gabe Clemons

Jiaoyan (Daisy) Cui

Amy Frischhertz

Jessica Gosney

Matt Harber

David Huffnung

Maria Lauer

Katherine (Allie) Mounce

Cara Pfennigwerth

Vickie Phipps

William Roberts-Foster

Lindsey Teague

Michael (Chase) Witt

Central High Art Teacher:

Peggy Leland



Central High Students:

Keyonna Ballinger

Andrew Emanuel

Jon Jacobus

Nick Stoutt

Cameilia Baran

Mike Garrett

Dale Summers

Rae Mullas

Molly Clark

Beth Githengu

Sarah Orpurt

Keotric Tucker

Rachel Cogdill

Keshia Gordon

Devon Russell

Fallon Tudor

Elizabeth Colins

Eliza Greene

Austin Mathis

Richard Scott

Kenzie Ellis

Riley Gwin

David Shcherbachuk

Kathleen Ellis

Alaina Lattimer

Vaddem Shcherbachuk

  • Theme 1= Violence and Tolerance
    TEAM PEACE. In August 2008, there was a school shooting that killed a sophomore and left a freshman charged with murder. This tragic event once again heightened the awareness of community and the need for tolerance. With a focus on the theme of violence and the topic of war in general, an inquiry for Team Peace began with one simple statement: We do not want war to happen. They started with a lot of questions such as: What do I know about war? Where is war happening? What does war look like? Are there necessary wars? What have others before us done that also do not want war to happen?

  • Theme 1= Violence and Tolerance
    TEAM PEACE. One of the outcomes for the team was the participation in an iron pour. The students did the art and our grad students, Vickie and Rhonda, poured the iron. There's a nice metaphor in here about the transference of materials used for war to create a peaceful message. There was also a sketch for a MEWE sculpture that would be poured out of iron and used water to flip the letters.

  • Theme 2= Education
    Most people would agree that education is at a crossroads in this country. The world has changed and the way we learn should shift accordingly. Like in most American public schools, communication between teachers, students and the administration is wrought with misunderstandings. Students from the University of Tennessee and Central High set out to discover what could be done to open up the lines of communication. We had two solutions: One was to make a short documentary film called Change is Central, featuring varying perspectives from the students and faculty at the High School and share it with everyone including administrators. The other, called Central Confidential, was a series of anonymous postcards on which students could write their secrets and fears and post them onto walls throughout the school.

  • Theme 3= Environment
    TEAM Environment. There were 2 issues that students wanted to tackle: The first is that Knoxville is home to many chain restaurants and as a result many Styrofoam take-home containers end up in nearby landfills. The challenge we defined for ourselves was to stop the waste, or at least make people think twice about the amount of garbage they toss away when they go out to eat. To solve this problem, we wanted to architect a solution that not only solved the waste issue, but also developed a better sense of community pride while creating a greener Knoxville. Our solution was KNOXBOX!—A reusable take home container, specifically designed for our city.

  • Theme 3= Environment
    TEAM Environment. The second was prompted by the questions: Where does our food come from? How is it grown? What are we actually eating? These are questions most adults cannot answer with any certainty. Children are even less informed. Slowly, we have become disconnected from the land. Statistics show that if every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a weak composed of locally and organically raised produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week. To combat this growing detachment from the land, University of Tennessee design students teamed up with Central High art students to create an organic garden at the High school. They are working on a base assumption that through a hands-on experience with growing vegetables, we will become a healthier community.

  • Theme 4= Poverty
    TEAM Poverty. Given its location, temperate climate and generosity of its citizens, Knoxville has a very large homeless population. On any given night in Knoxville, 900 people sleep in emergency shelters, on the street, in transitional housing or in cars. Over the course of a year here, it’s possible that 8,000 different people may experience homelessness. The students wanted to work on a project together that would represents our connection to each other and underscore the importance of a sense of place. The making of a quilt, a rich southern tradition, is more profound for its process, than its product. So, they began by sketching and collecting materials from everyone around the school and shared stories of challenges and triumphs as they sewed.

  • Theme 4= Poverty
    TEAM Poverty. Gloves and pockets were added on the quilt where people could insert wishes and ideas for ending homelessness. The concept was to allow people to interact with the quilt in the school and various locations around town.

  • Theme 5= Health
    TEAM Health. At the time of this project, Tennessee was ranked 5th in the country for child obesity. In the United States, childhood obesity is nearing 17 percent, more than triple what it was in 1975. Despite the attention this epidemic has garnered over the past 5 years the fact of the matter is that 1 in 3 children born today will develop Type 2 diabetes as a result of poor nutrition and a lack of exercise. Some of the questions were: What can we create to promote a healthy lifestyle for the school? How can we make the experience fun, but meaningful at the same time? We arrived at two solutions. One was a healthy "Central Cookbook," made up of recipes that students would eat. It turns out that 95% of students polled would eat a Smoothie for lunch if it was available. The High school students used Adobe InDesign for the first time.

  • Theme 5= Health
    TEAM Health. Idea number two was high school health event— imagine the Amazing Race meets a real-life video game where students compete in events that promote living healthy, creative and balanced lifestyles. Being healthy, includes learning to balance needs with wants and developing a life that is full of creativity. One afternoon in April, we ran a test pilot of the race which was named by the students as "Stairway to Health."

  • Theme 5= Health
    TEAM Health. Some of the events in Stairway to Health included: name and paint your own real-life avatar, create a mock commercial for an imaginary exercise product, come up with a name for this amazing (health) race and set it on the letterpress, run an obstacle course and find your optimal body weight and Body Mass Index.