Halloween is a special time to be a child. For one day, with a little imagination and the right costume, being anyone or anything is possible. Add to that the joy of getting together with family and friends for trick or treating in their community.
For the last eight years, RS&H associates have helped children living with disabilities fulfill their wishes by engineering a magical Halloween experience, complete with custom costumes adapted to their wheelchairs. This year, the kids from the Jacksonville Center for Independent Living (CIL) will be fitted for their adaptive costumes on Oct. 13, plenty of time to get ready for Halloween.
Supported by the RS&H Elevate Fund, the team collaborates each year across multiple disciplines to make Halloween visions a reality. In the past, RS&H designers have brought to life Cinderella’s carriage, the Hogwarts Express, a John Deere tractor, and many more costumes.
“Dedicated volunteers are behind the amazing costumes we are able to give the children,” said Brandon Pourch, an architect and organizer of the event. “The collaboration between the team and the willingness to innovate to take these kids’ wishes and turn them into reality makes this a favorite project year after year.”
Jacksonville’s CIL aims to empower people with disabilities to live independent, self-empowered lives. The group serves five counties in Northeast Florida and helps more than 1,000 individuals every year set and achieve their goals for independence.
CIL caught the interest of Pourch and fellow RS&H associate David Mantia in 2015 after Pourch sought to put his architectural skills to work for children with disabilities. For every Halloween since, Mantia, Pourch and a growing group of RS&H associates have built costumes.
RS&H associates fill several roles needed to bring each child’s costume together. Once the team knows what kinds of designs they will be working on for the year, phase one ensues. Volunteers connect – either virtually or in-person – to develop a design for each adaptive costume, building out ideas on a virtual mural board and layering in shapes, colors and details. With the design set, other associates break out their own power tools and workspaces to construct the costumes, and even more join in to decorate them in their theme.
“It’s great to give back, and it’s really rewarding to use our talents on a different challenge,” Pourch said. “I know it means a lot to our team to see the smiles on the kids’ faces.”
The 2022 costume reveal was held October 13th at RS&H’S corporate headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.