“When the kids get to use their minds and their hearts, it changes the whole learning experience,” Indian Trail High School and Academy technology education teacher Thom Stapleman said.

That’s exactly what Indian Trail advanced construction students are doing this semester as they build two playhouses for special needs children.

The families receiving the playhouses were selected by Tender Touch therapy. Partnerships for this project includes donations from the Education Foundation of Kenosha, the Local 161 Carpenters and the Millwrights Union.

“This project has taught me a lot,” junior Jaden Samuels said. “It means more when there’s a face attached to what you’re making. It gives it more purpose, and it becomes more emotional.”

Additionally, Samuels said he’s learned a lot of construction skills that he plans to use toward building his own house someday.

“Before this, I didn’t know how to build a house, but this gives us the skills to build from the ground up.”

For junior Lemuel Jenkins, the community service ties to this project have made it more exciting, and he’s looking forward to the playhouses being delivered to the families.

“It’s cool to see all the different people involved and to be a part of all the ideas coming together,” he said.

Sophomore Skylar Jenkins has enjoyed the teamwork aspect of the project as well, not just among the students, but with the community.

“We’re working together and learning to build a house, but at the same time, we know we’re doing it for someone else, and that feels good,” she said.

Stapleman is proud of how much passion and hard work his students have applied to this project and how meaningful it has been to them.

“When students learn to build something with the consumer in mind, it engages the whole student,” Stapleman said. “I’m a strong believer in the power of community service, and as a teacher, I want my students to not only learn the skill set, but learn something that will take their perspectives beyond the classroom.”

The construction began at the beginning of May and will wrap up next week in time for a June 22 delivery. Army representatives in uniform will deliver the playhouses to the families’ homes via an Army truck and trailer.

Stapleman hopes to make this an annual project and hopes the community can continue to support their efforts.

“There are people out there that are more than willing to help, you just have to reach out,” he said. “That is the heart of community service projects.”