ST. GEORGE – Dixie Applied Technology College drafting student Lindsey Smith has been unable to use her hands and legs since birth and currently uses a wheelchair to get around. However, she hasn’t let her disability stop her. Recently, Smith designed an entire community for people with special needs and their families.
On Tuesday, Smith presented a massive final project for a drafting and design certificate program to a crowd of supporters, including her instructors, fellow students, friends and DXATC administrators.
Smith’s design is titled “A Special Needs Community” and includes facilities for living, working and playing that would accommodate those with a variety of special needs utilizing unique adaptations.
Smith is no stranger to such accommodations. In 2012, she was able to move into a home specially built for her by the Southern Utah Home Builders Association and hundreds of volunteers.
Smith presented the design for her project Tuesday with computer modeled and animated “fly-throughs,” architectural and site drawings and renderings of the finished structures.
Smith’s project plans include residential units, a workspace, a clubhouse, a physical therapy and medical facility and a cafeteria that would be open to the public.
“She’s got a space for a person with special needs who could have a job working on the computer for somebody,” Smith’s drafting instructor William McMurrin said. “It could be a company that was in another city or a call center or any number of options.”
DXATC President Kelle Stephens was one of several college administrators present.
“I honestly have never been more proud of anyone than I have been today, of Lindsay,” Stephens said after Smith’s presentation.
“Lindsay could be a consultant for a national architecture firm. She has, in her head, so many additional ideas for a center for people with different abilities.”
The project took three or four months to complete, McMurrin said.
“This is the largest project that any student’s ever done here,” McMurrin said. “Just the quantity of work and the quality of the work – if it was just doing any building – is very impressive. But then you put on top of that all of these ideas for people with disabilities, special needs and all of the things she’s thought about are really quite impressive in this project.”
McMurrin said the most interesting part of Smith’s design allows for community living but balances it with the need for privacy.
“She’s accommodated both in what I think is a really interesting way,” McMurrin said.
The inspiration for the project came from a man who’s son had muscular dystrophy, Smith said.
“He wanted to start a neighborhood where his son could have a safe place growing up,” she said, “and he wanted a neighborhood that has family homes where a family could come to live with a disabled family member, and also have a place to work in the same neighborhood.”
“I took it a little bit farther than that, and added houses for multiple disabilities,” she continued.
Smith ended up designing an entire community, theoretically set in downtown St. George.
“So this neighborhood could be part of a community, not isolated,” Smith said.
Smith was excited to finish the project and is looking forward to the future.
“I’m really excited to find a job,” Smith said. “I want to help people, make their life a little easier. Even if it’s simple – something simple, can go a long way.”
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