SEE MIDDLE SCHOOLERS’ IDEAS
LAUNCHING IDEAS WITH MIDDLE SCHOOLERS
Have you ever seen the bikes you can borrow outside the libraries in Stark County? That was the idea of middle schoolers!
At Camp What If in 2014, Abby, Devin, and Alexis had an idea! What If Stark County had a bike lending program that would give anyone who needed it access to better transportation, exercise, and recreation? And, they thought, what if it could all be free?
After investigating the Canton area and its people who couldn’t always get rides to work, get decent exercise in the city, or couldn’t afford a bike, they knew something could be done.
They met with a city engineer who discussed how bicycles and city street infrastructure works. They brainstormed, they talked, and then they took a tour of the Stark County District Library, where you can check out a lot of unique items with your library card. With all the free things you can access with your library card, couldn’t bikes be free there too? The answer? Yes!
Gabby, Devin, and Alexis along with TomTod Ideas staff met with Stark County District Library administrators, Canton Parks and Recreation, and Stark Parks to launch the idea into a reality. After much discussion, planning, and strategizing, Gabby, Devin, and Alexis handed the idea over to the three cooperating departments, and BikeSmart was born.
Utilizing the services of Zagster, a bicycle sharing company, and Ernie’s Bike Shop, BikeSmart now has six hubs in the Stark County area and provides free bike rentals to Stark County District Library card holders, and everything is managed on your phone through an app.
BikeSmart was awarded first place in Management Innovation from the Ohio Parks and Recreation Association (OPRA). The program was also a top three finalist (out of an original field of 14 entries) for the prestigious 2015 OPRA Governor’s Award for Parks and Recreation. BikeSmart and the Stark County District Library were also honored with the Library Innovation Award from the Ohio Library Council, for having “a significant impact on the community” and partnering with outside organizations.
Thanks to middle schoolers Gabby, Devin, and Alexis, the Stark County area now has a free bike-sharing program accessible to all for a better, more reliable, healthier lifestyle.
The CantonSmart App
When Aaron and Gwyn explored their community at Camp What If, they loved what they saw. “What if,” they thought, “our city had a smart guide to all the great things in Canton? And what if it showed you where to go?”
The result? The CantonSmart App. This app navigates users through all the city has to offer with walkthroughs of the city’s fun and history.
Aaron and Gwyn worked alongside local mentors, including developers Chris Cutter and Dan Capri, and Mark Holland with the McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, to put their idea into motion.
Now the public has an app that serves up local history, knowledge, and food right from their phones, all thanks to middle schoolers!
IDEAS FROM WHAT IF 101 2019-2020
Adventure Curators, Patrick, Amy, and Zane worked with over 750 students in schools around Stark and Summit County in 2019-2020. What If 101 empowers the ideas of middle schoolers to help them imagine innovative ways to help their communities thrive! Take a peek at these amazing middle school ideas below or learn more about What If 101.
What If 101 Overview
Mindfulness Walk & Mids Caring for Kids
The 5 Sense Mural
TOMTOD’S 2020 ONLINE SUMMER CAMP
During the summer of 2020, TomTod reimagined summer camp – virtually! With 72 campers in three camps, Camp What If @Home had the largest number of middle schoolers in summer program history!
“For three weeks, campers laughed, shared stories, hung around to talk with camp counselors long after camp time ended and everyone else logged off. And of course created impactful ideas to better their communities,” TomTod Adventure Curator, Amy, writes in her blog post about Camp.
Curious about how camp worked? Read this Camp Overview.
IDEAS FROM CAMP WHAT IF – 2020
Watch middle schoolers share their ideas from Camp What If 2020! You can see all the idea videos on our YouTube Channel.