Health Care, Manufacturing, and Nonprofits

Locally made carts foster creative time for kids

Nonprofit uses product made in Muskegon to provide ‘mobile art experience’ for children in hospitals.

May 3, 2019
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AcmeCart
The goal of the Acme Creativity Cart is to allow young patients to experience “the healing joy and distraction of imagination and creativity” while receiving critical treatment. Courtesy Ben Olson, The Backyard Experience

A Muskegon manufacturer unknowingly designed the “perfect” tool for a nonprofit program that’s deploying in California and Chicago.

Muskegon-based Geerpres, a maker of health care and cleaning industry solutions, has a product called the Enterprise EVS Modular Cart that was designed to be configurable for various cleaning protocols in health care.

The Backyard Experience, a nonprofit in the Chicago area, recently stumbled across the product when searching for a customizable cart for a new program it is deploying in affiliation with the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity.

The program is called the Acme Creativity Cart, a mobile art experience that gives young patients “interactive creative time like drawing, paper sculpture, painting, flipbook making” and more. The goal is to create an environment where young patients get to experience “the healing joy and distraction of imagination and creativity” while receiving critical treatment.

Ben Olson is board chair of The Backyard Experience and a board member with the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity Chicagoland. He said the latter nonprofit, founded by the late animator Chuck Jones in 1999, has been looking to spread Jones’ work in fostering imaginative time to children’s hospitals in the Chicagoland area but was struggling to find a cart that would be customizable and also meet the cleaning protocols of all the various hospitals in the area.

For the program, the carts needed to house creativity kits with supplies like colored pencils, paper, modeling clay, sticker books, coloring books, crayons, markers, glue and more. It also needed to be able to be wrapped with a standard-size wrap with the program name, logo and sponsors on it.

Olson said the Geerpres cart “works perfectly.”

“It comes a la carte, no pun intended, where we could add what we needed to, and what we figured out as we designed the wrap … and saw the functionality that we needed, the ability to add and subtract parts to get the right thing was perfect,” he said.

“We didn’t have to custom build anything, which then we would have to send to the hospital to be like, ‘Is it OK, does this meet specifications for you?’ It’s already done. They already sell these carts in hospitals. There’s a locked storage container for the tower so we can store our creativity kits in there, and then the extended piece, where we fit our totes on, the tote fits like a glove. We were able to find totes the exact size and width of that thing so that we can stack them. Our volunteers will bring the totes in, then take them back so that we can resupply when they’re done. And then we’ve got the handle, which has the logo on top. It gave plenty of opportunity for cart sponsorship. The finish that they had in the powder coat was perfect for what we needed as far as the surface to wrap, and not only that, but the cost was very economical. I can reproduce this over and over and over again with zero headaches.”

The Acme Creativity Cart program is in the process of being deployed at hospitals in Orange County, California, and across the Chicagoland area, Olson said.

He noted if any Michigan hospitals wanted to launch an Acme Creativity Cart program, Chuck Jones Center for Creativity Chicagoland, which serves as the Midwest hub for the nonprofit, would be happy to facilitate it.

Scott Ribbe, president at Geerpres, said Olson contacted a rep at his company about three months ago regarding procuring the EVS Enterprise Cart — which was rolled out in November — to use in this program. Ribbe said Geerpres carts are not used in any similar programs that he knows of, so it was a nice surprise.

“I’m truly excited about the fact that our cart could be modular and adapted for a unique purpose that I think is a fantastic initiative with Ben and the Chuck Jones group,” he said. “I think it’s fantastic that they can use something that’s durable and helps kids (with) chronic needs. … I’m happy to be part of it.”

More information about the mission of The Backyard Experience, the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity and the Acme Creativity Carts is online at thebackyardexperience.org.

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