Easter Seals and Google SketchUp Announce the Winners of its Sketch-a-Space Competition

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Entrants dream up video game room, curved wall and tactile surfaces for people with autism

Not only is it a wonderful tool for individuals with autism to express themselves, it’s a great way for entrants to share their creative ideas for what makes a comfortable and safe space, whether it be a bedroom, family room, classroom or office

Today, Easter Seals and Google SketchUp announced the winners of its Sketch-a-Space contest, a first-of-its-kind online competition that offered people with autism—and those interested in learning more about autism or who have someone in their life that lives with autism—an opportunity to design their ideal, dream space using Google SketchUp’s free 3-D modeling software.

“The Ultimate Game Room” Wins Grand Prize
Easter Seals and Google SketchUp are proud to announce the winners of the Sketch-a-Space contest. The Grand Prize winner of $2,000 created “The Ultimate Game Room,” which featured a video game vending machine. Runners-up included “Adaptable Curve,” designed with a curved interior that can be transformed into an IMAX theater and “A Special Place,” which featured many tactile surfaces, including pictures hanging on the walls. Each was awarded $1,000 to make their spaces a reality.

Easter Seals’ website is showcasing these winners, along with video, pictures and descriptions of their spaces. Check out these cool designs, other interesting entries and tips and tricks on how to have your design featured next year.

Winning Designs Consider Autism from Ceiling to Flooring
Easter Seals selected a panel of judges, all experts from diverse backgrounds, including four accomplished professionals in the architecture/design world. Each carefully selected the winners based on the entrant’s consideration of the unique needs of people with autism, eye for design and creativity and proficiency with the Google SketchUp software.

Maurice Snell, Sketch-a-Space judge and young man living with autism, is personally aware of the unique needs of individuals on the spectrum. “Each entrant did a wonderful job putting together interesting spaces,” he said. “I enjoyed the furniture, flooring, lighting and each space’s uniqueness and creativity.”

About Sketch-a-Space
Earlier this year, Easter Seals and Google SketchUp launched Sketch-a-Space to raise autism awareness, especially around the importance of life-long services and supports.

“We wanted to encourage development of design solutions to address the unique needs of people living with autism and provide an avenue for creative expression,” said Tom Wyman, manager of business development, Google. “We hoped the contest might tap into an individual’s hidden talents and build creative and design skills. This year’s entries have done just that.”

Google SketchUp was originally developed for users to design and communicate in 3-D. After its introduction, Google learned its free software was very popular among people with autism, many of whom are visually and spatially gifted and especially adept at creating 3-D models. Given the increased prevalence of autism, and its greater public awareness, more professionals are beginning to consider the design needs of individuals with autism through Universal Design.

“Not only is it a wonderful tool for individuals with autism to express themselves, it’s a great way for entrants to share their creative ideas for what makes a comfortable and safe space, whether it be a bedroom, family room, classroom or office,” said Patricia Wright, PhD, MPH, national director, autism services, Easter Seals. “We’re delighted in the overall quality of the entries we received in our first Sketch-a-Space competition.”

The deadline for Sketch-a-Space entries was August 20, 2010, but keep an eye on the Easter Seals website for announcements of what’s to come in 2011. If you would like to hone your SketchUp skills before next year’s contest, download the free Google SketchUp software and visit the Autism and Design page for tips on how to design an autism-friendly space.

About Easter Seals
Easter Seals is the leading non-profit provider of services for individuals with autism, developmental disabilities, physical disabilities and other special needs. For more than 90 years, Easter Seals has been offering help and hope to children and adults living with disabilities, and to the families who love them. Through therapy, training, education and support services, Easter Seals creates life-changing solutions so that people with disabilities can live, learn, work and play. Support children and adults with disabilities at http://www.easterseals.com or http://www.actforautism.org.

Rachel Talen, Easter Seals

Kristen Barnfield, Easter Seals


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Rachel Talen

Kristen Barnfield
Easter Seals
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