24 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / September 2020 ELEMENTS Designing for Kids Designing Kids’ Ministry Facilities that Promote Growth Paulla Shetterly, NCIDQ, EDAC, IIDA, LEED AP Principal and Co-owner, Gallun Snow C hurches oftenwant their kids’ ministry environments to be first and foremost safe/secure, but also uniquely exciting and inspiring venues for kids while learning and playing. Pastors and teachers then use these cre- ative canvases or settings as tools or backdrops to enhance the lesson and activity. Today, the ques- tion for architects and designers is: “Post-COVID-19, how will design change? What will the future kid’s ministry spaces look like? Will they continue to fos- ter growth and inspire new families to join?” We be- lieve the answer is yes, but wemust adapt. • Safety. COVID-19 has givenway to an unprecedent- ed season for the country, so the church, now more than ever, must put safety and proactive public health preparedness as its first priority. This would include everything from social distancing within the environ- ment, to more room in each activity area or designing for fewer children per room. Hand-washing sinks and sanitizing stations will need to be designed into ev- ery room. Materials used in the facility will need to be smoothandeasy towipedown.Hands-freedeviseswill be a must. Three-dimensional theming elements will need to be hard-coated for easy cleanability. Carpeting likely will be replaced with hard surfaces with soft floormats that can bewashed easily. • Security. Lighting, cameras, protectionof each area, and how a church responds to a security threat are topics designers and architects would discuss in the programmingphase, especially focusingon riskassess- ment and evaluating vulnerabilities. Families want to know that there are specific plans set up in case of an emergency. From the parking lot to the entryways, and from the classrooms to the corridors, all scenarios should be anticipated. This includes the kind of access from public areas into the kids’ suites, the number of doors in and out of the suite, whether they are locked, and the visibility into each area. Special attention to lightingwill need tobe addressed inside andoutside of the environment. “The two most critical elements that families are looking for in a kids’ ministry space are safety/securi- ty and visual excellence. When these two elements are achieved, families feel a senseof peaceandexcitement in allowing the church to play a part of their family's story. " Derrick Skelton, Kids’ Pastor First Baptist Church of Orlando, Florida • Technology. Staffwillworkwith thedesign teamto incorporate the technology needed to enhance securi- ty and safety. Technology from the kids’ perspective: Children re- main accustomed to visually stimulating learning ex- periences. They are also accustomed to change and eas- ily can get boredwith toomuch of the same thing. The church must respond and adapt to this by having the ability to change things easily, withminimal cost. Con- sider the use of media technology to create varied and unique atmospheres at the touch of a button. Think about streaming videos, interactive gaming, lighting sets and dynamic programming. These capabilities allow pastors the opportunity to create settings that keep the kids engaged and inspired while learning. In- corporating music and visual stimulation, with simple changes over time, will keep things feeling new. • Building atmosphere . Colors, lighting, fun visuals and unique design elements enhance the ambiance and are critical for a successful student and kids’ minis- try. Simple changes like paint or a washable vinyl wall mural can transform a drab environment into a thriv- ing, relevant and contemporary activity center. Some pastorshavechosenmorecreativedesigntouches such as dedicated theaters, specialized lighting, or 3D ele- ments. Adding a café withmore open-area lounge seat- ing, study spaces and dining opportunities lends itself to multipurpose use as well as the ability to connect the entire family. With some simple and creative en- hancements like these (while incorporating social dis- tancing), and anticipation of future needs, the church will be able to nurture children and reinvigorate the lives of the older generations. “Upon completion of our children’s theater, we ex- perienced momentum and an excitement that led to physical growth and spiritual growth. The enhanced environment led to a more dynamic learning environ- ment.” Allen Bonnell, Senior Pastor Immanuel Baptist Church, Corbin, Kentucky Simple changes like paint or a washable vinyl wall mural can transform a drab environment into a thriving, rele- vant and contemporary activity center.