As most know, Crashworks is a place for creating, exploring, and discovering using recycled materials and ones’ imagination. It is located downtown next to the Museum of North Texas History on Indiana Avenue. However, most don’t know the blood, sweat, tears, and determination put into making this establishment.
Shauna and Ty LaRocque had a dream since visiting Floriopolis, a nice art studio, in Panama City, Florida. This was one of their biggest inspirations when it comes to Crashworks. Floriopolis is home to 100+ local artists who share the same mission; to use the power of the arts to positively impact the surrounding areas. After the LaRocque family visited, Shauna decided she wanted to create a place for families to learn together and for entertainment. “It was Shauna’s idea to make it more into an educational place too”, quotes Ty LaRocque.
Shauna saw a necessity for the Wichita Falls community, and Ty’s motivation was purely to see Shauna’s vision become a reality. Shauna has a passion for teaching and felt it would be a benefit to the community. “Being the mom of seven kids played a huge role,” quotes Shauna. Shauna was also inspired by local artists and teachers who “think outside the box.”
The studio’s mission statement is to redefine what education looks like through STEAM initiatives (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). They hope to do this in an unconventional way, offering an eclectic mash-up of classic art mediums, engineering “bits” and a lot of recycled materials. It is bringing hands-on, creative exploration to learners of all ages through process-based education.
It all started with loads of inspiration and many notebooks filled with two years’ worth of ideas. Eventually, the couple decided to make it happen, Shauna did the “leg” work and Ty did the “grunt” work. It took less than a year, after signing a lease, to set things in motion. The couple wasn’t the only two to make this reality a dream.
“Our investors, who believed in Crashworks before they ever even completely understood what it would look like. The amazing team at the Small Business Development Center at Midwestern State University, my dad and brother who came down and helped us whenever they could. The original team we put together to help us prep and open Crashworks. Sheena McMillian, who went from team member to manager practically overnight and worked so many late nights and long days with me. Her entire family was a big part of helping make this dream come true. The community; everyone rallied to support us however they could,” Shauna quotes.
Recently, it turned a year old and had over three thousand kids go to the studio to field trip from area schools this past spring. Also, it is a part of what is revitalizing downtown and a part of the Makerspace Hub. This new establishment has brought more attendance downtown and great partnerships with the North Texas History Museum.
It is like a creative, exploration playground, bringing you all of the STEAM components in an educational environment by way of recycling everyday materials. Unlike other creative studios in the area, they focus on process rather than product. “Fostering imagination, inspiration, curiosity, discovery, and problem solving, as their mission statement says. The studio hopes patrons will see the potential in the world. “We want them to see how all the thing they learn about is tied together- the mathematics in the music they listen to, the science behind their radio-even the mechanical science! Our ultimate goal is to provide a space for the next generation of makers, engineers, artists and entrepreneurs to finish.”
Also, it has a summer program called, “Maker Monday.” This allows parents to drop off their kids so that they can learn and explore on an independent level. This fall, Crashworks plans on starting science unit studies for the local homeschool community.
Shauna and Ty imagine the place to be where families can utilize everything; school projects, family outings. A place where kids and adults can come. “A place where they can explore their interests without fear of doing something wrong, where they can take chances and see the beauty of being a lifelong learner,” Shauna quotes.
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– Brenna Regouby