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Thursday, 08 March 2018 06:19

Brooks' MakerSpace area opens March 10

Written by  Jamie Rieger
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Youth and young adults in Brooks will soon have an outlet for all that creative energy as MakerSpace launches on March 10.

Housed in the former County of Newell building, the facility will offer a place for young people to develop and hone technical skills, as well as build on their people skills and mental health.
The idea for the Brooks MakerSpace came from SPEC Association executive director, Scott Berry, who was looking for a way to help the community's young people in these areas.
"I was looking for a solution that would engage youth and young adults and help reduce isolation while increasing relevant skill sets. This project is as much about building relevant skill sets as it is about mental health. The equipment in the Makerspace like 3D printers,   robotics, coding computers and digital music and video production hardware, represents the most important tools today for developing hard skills. In addition, the MakerSpace has a large common area which serves an equally important function as it is in the commons where social skills (arguably, the most important skill of all) get developed further," said Berry, adding that the project is similar to another he was involved with in Pincher Creek.
“I was involved loosely in another similar project in Pincher Creek a few years back. It is still running successfully.  I was also influenced after reading the book "Thank you for being late ".  I recommend this book to everyone that is interested in creating a sustainable future. When I first arrived in Brooks, I heard from youth that they wanted activities outside of school hours that allowed creative expression. In addition, FCSS conducted a survey of 900 youth in the region and the overwhelming response was that youth wanted creative outlets after school, where they could gather with peers...hence MakerSpace."
Makerspace will initially available to people aged 12 to 30 years old, but Berry said, plans are in place to open it up to the general public in the near future and will be beneficial to the whole community and its economy.
"There are numerous benefits. In addition to skill building and people skills, the Makerspace will birth entrepreneurs that will create innovative businesses allowing Brooks to diversify its economy, which it urgently needs to do. We expect to run events that will support tourism and we expect that has skill sets increase, there will be a demand for more advanced training which can support new programming at Medicine Hat College Brooks Campus. In addition, the opportunity to be creative will spawn new mindsets as the awareness of possibilities expands within the population," he said.
Items such as 3D printers, robotics, coding computers, and hardware for digital music and video production come with a hefty price tag, but Berry said they have received very generous financial support.
"The major visionary financial backers are FCSS, the largest contributor and strong champion followed by the City of Brooks which has donated the space and provided financial backing as well. Our corporate visionary contributors are Chinook Financial and Smith Group. Both have committed to multi-year support. In addition, Medicine Hat College has been a significant contributor through the donation of 40 computers," he said.
SPEC is also looking for community members to be mentors and/or to support the launch of MakerSpace. Contact Berry at 403-362-5056 for further information. 
The MakerSpace launch is taking place at 707 2nd Ave. East in Brooks on Sat., March 10, from 10 am to 5 pm.

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