The recipe for success during the school day starts with rest—but for many children, a good night's sleep is hard to come by because they don't have a bed.
A group of teens in Orrville doing their part to tackle the issue while making Northeast Ohio a better land.
Students in Orrville High School’s conservation of parks class are typically planting trees, encouraging recycling efforts or enjoying a quiet walk through nature.
However, this weekend they are changing it up because of COVID-19.
“When the students knew they couldn’t go out and do things, they wanted to bring it home to the community. When they get a good program, I have to hold on cause they’re going,” said science teacher Jim Duxbury.
More than two dozen teens will turning out over the next three days to build beds for children in Wayne County who don’t have one.
“There’s no extra credit. They’re here because they want to be here,” said Duxbury.
Serenity Smale and her classmates created the program "Sweet Dreams for Kids."
“It was kind of nice to find out about another issue that we can help to fix,” said Smale.
They brought their idea to the community and secured $4,500 in grants and donations to get their project off the ground.
“We started out with five beds and we’re at 25 beds now,” said Duxbury.
Their outreach is important. Researchers discovered not getting a restful night's sleep can fundamentally change the way our brains are wired.
For young people, that can impact their ability to learn.
Sleep deprivation is also linked to childhood obesity as well as emotional and behavioral issues.
“All things that are really a concern when we get students into the classroom and get them to next level,” said Duxbury.
In addition to collecting the materials to construct the beds, the students started thinking beyond the wood frame.
“Every day I had someone come in and say 'Hey, do you know they have pillows on sale over here?' or 'Do you know we can make this happen regarding books? Can we give them stuffed animals?' They are so excited about it,” said Duxbury.
Once the beds are ready, the Salvation Army will distribute them to the families.
“We’re happy to say that every single one of our beds are spoken for and that’s within a week and a half,” said Duxbury.
Chances are “Sweet Dreams for Kids” will have another bed building blitz because of demand and financial support thrown behind the project.
This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.