Scattergood Foundation’s 2015 Design Challenge Winner, KangaRoom, Promotes Resilience in Homeless Shelters - Generocity Philly

Dec. 15, 2014 11:33 am

Scattergood Foundation’s 2015 Design Challenge Winner, KangaRoom, Promotes Resilience in Homeless Shelters

92 percent of women in family homeless shelters have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetimes--how can homeless shelters promote safety and prevent re-traumatization?

The winner of Scattergood Foundation‘s 2015 Design Challenge is KangaRoom, a design that was submitted by Impact Services Corporation. The design consists of portable walls that will provide homeless shelter guests with privacy and safety. The walls also have storage pouches for guests to securely store any items they may have.

Scattergood Foundation will be working Impact Services Corporation to build and implement their design at Jane Addams Place, a homeless shelter for women and children in West Philadelphia.

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The 2015 Design Challenge will be the fourth design challenge held by the Scattergood Foundation, a Quaker-based foundation dedicated to improving the system through which behavioral healthcare is administered in the Philadelphia region.

“For the last four years, we’ve hosted a design challenge around a particular topic in mental health,” said Joe Pyle, president of the Scattergood Foundation. He added that the reason they run the challenges is to give people who don’t typically have a role in creating possible solutions for behavioral health an opportunity to make a contribution.

Last year’s Scattergood Foundation Design Challenge winner, Wellness at Your Finger Tips, brought a behavior health kiosk to the QCare retail clinic inside the ShopRite of Fox Street in North Philadelphia. The kiosk was designed by The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disability Services and Screening For Mental Health Inc. to reduce stigma around treating behavioral health. The idea is to make learning about and screening for treatable conditions like depression or anxiety as commonplace as a blood pressure test.

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Currently, the Scattergood Foundation is running a crowdfunding campaign to bring five behavioral health kiosks to the Philadelphia area, including one at 11th Street Family Health Services.

This year’s design challenge asks participants (which can be any individual or organization) to create a low-cost, high-impact product that promotes resilience in a homeless shelter environment.The goal of the challenge is to create a replicable, sustainable product that promotes safety, prevents re-traumatization, and empowers occupants of a homeless shelter.

Caitlin O’Brien and Shoshana Akins, both Masters of Public Health candidates at Drexel University School of Public Health, developed this year’s challenge after months of research.

“The homeless shelter system really became a pretty strong area of interest for us as a lot what we heard from some of these interviews and our research was that the shelters are, in fact, pretty traumatizing for people who enter them,” said O’Brien. “A lot of people end up living on the street in part because they don’t feel the shelter system is a viable option for them because they’ve had something stolen from them, they might have experienced abuse and they’re not getting their needs met in the shelter, so they wind up on the street.”

In addition, research published in the American Journal of Public Health shows that approximately 92 percent of women in family homeless shelters have experienced physical or sexual abuse in their lifetimes.

“Shelters should be a valid place for people to go, to enter the cycle of care. So we want make sure to improve shelters so they can be a viable option of that cycle,” Akins said.

The winning submission will be supported by the Scattergood Foundation and implemented at the Jane Addams Place, a shelter in West Philadelphia for women and children that is run by Lutheran Settlement House.

Jane Addams Place was the first shelter in Philadelphia to implement the Sanctuary Model, a trauma-informed approach to creating community and healing for survivors of traumatic events. The winner will work within a trauma-informed framework to improve the lives of shelter guests by promoting health and wellness through resilience, safety and security.

The Final deadline for submissions is January 10, 2015. Comments and online voting to select finalists will run from January 12, 2015 – February 2, 2015, and finalists will be announced on February 9, 2015. The winner will be announced on February 16, 2015.

The implementation of the winning idea will happen at Jane Addams Place in late spring or early summer of 2015.

Learn more about the Design Challenge at

Images via the Scattergood Foundation


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