Thanks to the CarsonStrong Foundation, a local Girl Scout troop, and an Akron creative agency, Carson’s Corner at Stewart’s Caring Place has been transformed into an inviting area for teens and families to gather, read, and relax. Because of the CarsonStrong Foundation, Carson’s Corner debuted in 2020 and has finally come together thanks to this collaboration.
“The new aesthetic of our library offers a more relaxing, warm environment for our participants and families to enjoy. The library will offer a comforting place for reading, journaling, and working. We are so thankful to the Carson Higgins Memorial Foundation for their support on this project,” said Sarah Vojtek, vice president at Stewart’s Caring Place.
Mac Love, founder of Art x Love in Akron, led the creative renovation, which included substantial input from the Girl Scouts, who were moved by Carson’s story and used his love of nature and the national parks as inspiration for the colors, textures, and patterns featured in the room’s transformation.
The group spent a lot of time on the details to make the room a more friendly and comfortable place for families and teens to gather. Davey Tree donated wood to design a tree trunk and branches bookshelf, as well as a new tabletop. A new floor layout, incorporating teen-centric beanbag chairs, a couch, and high and low tables for gathering, increased the usable space. A water fountain provides a calming aspect.
As the room also serves as a library of reading material – both informational and entertaining – for families and patients, the placement of books is an important part of the design. Previously, books were lined up on shelves with the just title showing.
“When you just look at the spine of a book it doesn’t give you the opportunity to have an emotional relationship, it’s more informational. We made the entire experience much more like a bookstore, so when you go in you see the covers of the books and you have that emotional experience,” Mac said.
The Girl Scout troop donated a variety of new kid-friendly and teen-friendly books, and the CarsonStrong Foundation continues to stock the library every year with their Annual Book Drive for Carson’s birthday. The CarsonStrong Foundation also stocked the library with items such as pencils, pens, maze games, mugs and snuggly teddy bears for visitors to use while there or take home with them.
The showpiece of the room is a collaborative holographic painting of “Carson’s Canyon”, which was worked on by the Girl Scouts, the Higgins Family, and Mac. The finished piece incorporates art by Higgins family members that are symbolic of Carson and highlights his love of, and his final journey over, the Grand Canyon.
The project was important to Mac from both an artistic and a personal level. Artistically, he was grateful to be able to give teens an opportunity to express their creativity. Personally, as a survivor of epiglottitis as a child, which required an emergency tracheotomy, Mac said he has “always lived with this feeling of borrowed time. It’s been a beautiful thing to think about that in concert with these young people who also appreciate with gratitude the opportunity they have both in their own lives and to impact others.
“One of the things that always attracted me to Stewart’s Caring Place was how family-centric it is. No one is supposed to be going on this journey alone. I am really grateful that Stewart’s has created a space for people to be in this together. I think this space is really going to achieve that.”