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Lawrence elementary students break ground on home they helped design to help people experiencing homelessness

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Lawrence students design homes
Posted at 5:37 PM, Aug 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-30 09:22:14-04

VOICE FOR EVERYONE | Share your voice with KSHB 41’s Caroline Hogan

It started with one question that one Limestone Community School student, Quillan Dutro, asked — "What if everyone had a home?"

That question became an idea, and now that idea is being built from the ground up, as a home for people experiencing homelessness.

First and second graders out of this school in Lawrence broke ground on what will eventually be affordable housing.

"They had been hearing their parents talk about how this has been a growing issue in our area," said Madeline Herrera, the director of Limestone. "They said, 'It seems like adults don’t really know what to do about it, but that’s OK, we have ideas.'"

Madeline Herrera, Director of Limestone Community School

The students got right down to work with the help of Architectural Design firm, Multistudio.

Working together, they designed the house plan, landscape, chose colors for the walls and more.

Herrera said Multistudio worked with the kids every step of the way, even when decisions had to be made, making sure they got to be a part of the conversation too.

Tenants to Homeowners is another organization involved. They build affordable housing in Lawrence, and are helping the students decide who gets to live in the home they build.

"I wish every kid had that kind of education where we’re also solving real problems, right?" said Rebecca Buford, the executive director of Tenants to Homeowners.

Rebecca Buford, Executive Director of Tenants to Homeowners

For her, this project checks two boxes: helping the community and giving the children firsthand work experience.

"I love working with them because they’re building amazing human beings that have the empathy," Buford said.

Herrera feels good knowing other adults are seeing the work these children can do.

So, she's going to continue to teach her students to keep asking questions, and showing that young voices, no matter how small, can be just as powerful.

"We put a lot of work into it," Dutro said.