In an age where screens are king in the lives of many school-aged children, it is refreshing to know that there exists a local nonprofit dedicated to keeping kids’ minds engaged and their hands busy creating.
Making use of recycled materials such as cardboard, wood, plastic and even metal, the kids are free to create whatever their imaginations conjure up at reDiscover Center. Opportunities to learn valuable life skills like teamwork, collaboration and body-awareness for oneself and others are plentiful.
An atmosphere rich in tactile experiences is provided where children are even granted the use of power tools at reDiscover Center. Parents can breathe easy knowing that an age-appropriate safety training is given before any access to tools is ever allowed and are assured that the ratio is one adult to every four children working on a project.
Construction techniques and proper use of items such as power saws are thoroughly explained states Executive Director, Jonathan Bijur, who said there has never been an injury in the history of the center. Kids learn to practice self-control, by taking turns and adhering to codes of conduct.
“Some of our programs have specific projects that participants make, including self-portraits, race vehicles, magic wands, string art/geoboards, and birdhouses” states Bijur.
Parents interested in squelching weekend or summertime boredom may be fascinated by the projects the children come up with who are working hard at playing. A few of the masterpieces the youngsters have dreamt up and completed include a beanbag catapult, space llama, mylar paper flowers and a superhero hideout playground structure.
Bijur said “you will find fully engaged “minds-on, hands-on” students gaining intuition about 3D construction and connections between playing and learning.
There are scientific studies to back up the benefits that go far beyond simply playing. One of them is by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., of parentingscience.com who stated in her article “The cognitive benefits of play: Effects on the learning brain.” Play and exploration cause a substance in the brain, called BDNF to be secreted which allows the brain to essentially do its job.
Former city council member, Jim Clark noted on a visit to the center’s tenth anniversary in 2014, reDiscover Center’s “dedication to resourcefulness, conservation, creativity and community engagement.”
The John Aaroe Group community foundation nominated reDiscover center for a grant “after seeing the sheer joy on a child’s face when they create art with a recycled item.”
A big part of the reDiscover Center is the Tinkering Club which offers an open studio for you guessed it, tinkering! Training and help designing are offered by staff and volunteers. It is open Monday – Friday from 3:00 – 6:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. The cost is $20 for the first two hours and $10 per hour after that.
The center also offers summer camps, field trips and afterschool enrichment classes, and even Pop-Up Makerspace as opportunities to explore and create. The address is 12958 W. Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, 90066 and website address is rediscovercenter.org.