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TAF Academy Provides Shelter for Seattle’s Homeless



This past Monday, thirteen TAF Academy high school students gathered in Olympia, WA to participate in the first ever CTE Showcase of Skills Homeless Shelter Project. On the north lawn of the Capitol building, students endured inclement weather while putting final touches on their tiny shelter that will soon be a much needed home to one of Seattle’s homeless families or individuals.

TAF Academy was one of 22 other Washington high school, trade school, and technical college teams selected by the state’s Workforce Board who organized the competition to encourage Career and Technical Education. Although TAF Academy doesn’t have an official technical or trade program, students have been exposed to working with materials and construction under the leadership of teacher Gabriel Diaz in engineering class. When they heard about the project, the school jumped at the opportunity to make a difference in their community.

For the competition, teams were required to build portable and energy efficient homeless shelters given a set materials shopping list and building blueprint. The creativity in creating a functional space was left completely up to team discretion. Completed shelters will be transported to the north Seattle and Yakima area tiny home communities, and are set to be in use within the next week.

The competition was a sight to see. Teams had already constructed most parts of their homes at their relative schools, before transporting them to Olympia for a final day of labor. Legislators filled the lawn to take a peek into the line of shelters’ interiors, ask questions of the students, and provide a positive feedback regarding the impact they’re making in the community.

“We’ve been working to address the problem of homelessness,” Senator Sharon Nelson said after asking about TAF Academy and viewing the students’ progress. “I think it’s really great they’re out here.”

It was amazing to watch the students in action during the building process and see how each member contributed to the project. Jaden Regal, a ninth grade first year student at TAF Academy took the initiative to capture the entire eight day building process and edited a video to show to judges. He’d learned about TAF through one of his soccer teammates and was drawn to the schools integration of project-based learning, practical skills, and heavy technology.

“You’re learning about the skills that you need in business,” Regal stated as a primary reason he feels TAF Academy is preparing him for the future.

By the time the allotted building time came to a close, TAF Academy’s tiny home shelter had been painted and adorned with decorative pieces provided by the school’s Upcycle Club. Onlookers commented on the cozy feeling they received upon entering the space which displayed an artistic take on Aztec culture.

Although the final award ultimately went to another school, a group of students who had never constructed a livable space before are now able to say that they provided someone else a place to call home and have taken action to address homelessness.

Check out pictures here:

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