BREVARD COUNTY ― The Reusable Resources Adventure Center (RRAC) is a nonprofit, community service organization that utilizes reusable products to help develop creative imaginations for children and adults.
The center began in 1991 as a partnership with Brevard Public Schools (BPS) as a Title 3 program to train instructors to teach math and science with open-ended materials.
Throughout 30 years, small local businesses to companies like Harris and Collins Aerospace, have donated to the RRAC.
Walter Drew and his wife, Kitty, founded an organization in Boston called the Boston Public School Center. When they moved to Florida, they began the Institute for Self Active Education and RRAC.
They explained that the need for art materials can be limited within school districts like Brevard. The organization is also a professional training center for teachers and parents with a broad range of applicability.
“The need continues not only with teachers in public schools, but Head Start Centers," said Mr. Drew. "The training we do is applicable to retirement communities to stimulate, in the case of aging, giving them activities, physical activities like building models and learning how to do projects together.”
The program is open to the whole community and teachers from around the county are encouraged to participate. Many have utilized the programs resources for recent county-wide projects.
“The materials don’t dictate to the child what needs to be done. We’ve had teams from Odyssey of the Mind come in and get all their materials, the “Mission to Mars” project [students] came in and got materials to depict their presentation," said Kitty Drew, co-founder. "The idea is the materials don’t tell you what to do. It’s up to the child to explore and create and see what they can do."
RRAC lets students and teachers utilize these open-ended materials to spur creativity. The more obscure the material, the more possibilities to create.
“We’ve been getting materials from an interior designer. We’ve been getting lots of samples of fabric, pieces of tile and stone. Those samples, when they go out of date they need to get rid of them, and she calls us and we go and get them," said Mr. Dean. “Harris corporation has also given us some very neat plastic containers that kids use for building big structures. They are modular pieces," said Mr. Dean. "The containers held film canisters and when the film canister comes out, the containers a waste. Rather than dumping it, we get it."
The environmental benefits also make RRAC a unique program.
"It's not immediately noticeable, but it's an environmental program too," said Mr. Dean. "You have math, science and art but it also really does teach both students and teachers a higher environmental consciousness. Because the children have a direct experience with the materials, it really gives them an emotional connection to the context."
RRAC is open the first, second and third Wednesdays of the month from 3-6 p.m and the fourth Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. It is located at West Melbourne School for Science at 2255 Meadowlane Avenue in West Melbourne.