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Indiana United Methodist Children's Home

A transformed space at Indiana United Methodist Children's Home provides an innovative and inspiring environment for youth.

Indiana United Methodist Children’s Home hero image

The Indiana United Methodist Children's Home provides services and programs that help youth become healthy and self-sufficient adults. A recent renovation reimagined a space on their campus to better prepare youth for the future.

Independent learning for independent living

According to Stacy Youngblood, Case Manager at IUMCH, the organization wanted to focus on older youth who were transitioning from the Children’s Home to independent living.

“A lot of these kids are done with high school and looking at starting a post-secondary education, so we created a program to teach them independent living skills,” Stacy said. “We had been delivering the program out of a recreation space with picnic tables and couches where kids could hang out, study, or take online classes.”

Referred to as “the lodge,” the room featured dark colors, a rustic vibe, and several limitations.

“One of the biggest shortcomings was that we didn’t have any tables and chairs with backs,” Stacy said. “Kids were sitting on benches, trying to do their work, and by the end of the day, their backs were sore.”

After conversations with advisory staff and the IUMCH Foundation, IUMCH realized they needed a space that was conducive to learning but wasn’t a typical classroom.

“We wanted to create a space that was less like a lodge and more like a lounge at a college—a place for the kids to sit and be comfortable, but also focus on work,” Stacy said.

Inspiring purpose, thoughtful details

Having worked on the IUMCH Foundation’s Indianapolis office, the OfficeWorks team had a relationship with the organization and was excited about the opportunity to reimagine their space.

“I related to the children’s stories because I was an at-risk youth,” said Ashley Stanton, Account Executive at OfficeWorks. “I quickly became emotionally invested in this project.”

The purpose of the independent living program—combined with IUMCH’s goal to create an innovative and motivating space—inspired OfficeWorks’ thoughtful approach to design.

“I appreciated IUMCH’s trust in us to do a complete renovation that created a cohesive, engaging environment,” said Nicole Keller, Senior Interior Designer at OfficeWorks.

Featuring a neutral color palette accented with calming shades of blue, the new Independent Living Learning Lab addresses individual learning, collaborative discussions, and a variety of meetings.

For individual learning, OFS Heya Lounges introduce spaces within the space, fostering a sense of security and privacy while providing acoustic benefits.

“Given the number of virtual meetings and online classes the kids participate in, the lounges are perfect for helping them focus on their work while allowing us to supervise what’s going on,” Stacy said.

The use of different zones and glass dividers also enhances functionality and visibility.

“I love the glass dividers that separate the rooms, so you get a clear distinction of each zone,” said Kylee Bunnell, Academic Advisor, IUMCH. “It’s a somewhat small area, but the way it’s designed, it feels spacious and open.”

Transforming experiences, influencing outcomes

For IUMCH, the success of the project is evident in the sense of pride and ownership the youth have taken in the space and furniture.

“When you walk in, you feel like you’re either on a college campus or ready for a business meeting, so the change in mindset has been night and day,” Kylee said. “I love how user-friendly the furniture is and that the youth can change it to whatever works for them at the time. They feel like it’s their space, so they’ve been taking great care of it.”

“These kids come from environments where they don’t get these nice places just for them,” Stacy added. “The lab helps us prepare the kids for life outside of here, whether that means college, careers, or additional training. The space was built so they would be comfortable today and more successful in the future—they leave here knowing that. It’s such a valuable space for them.”

For Ashley, IUMCH’s Independent Living Learning Lab demonstrates how much the organization cares about the kids and their futures.

“When you really believe in an organization’s mission and understand what they’re providing, it makes the relationship extra special,” Ashley said. “We heard that when the kids saw the space, they were literally jumping up and down with excitement. It was meaningful to hear that feedback and to know the kids feel supported to reach their full potential.”