Industrial Arts Therapy. What is it?
When one walks into the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer’s Education Advancement Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one of the first things seen is the 1,800 sq. ft. Industrial Arts Garage shop. This often begs the question, what do cars and engines have to do with pediatric cancer?
Industrial Arts Therapy is one of many free services the Austin Hatcher Foundation provides to entire families faced with childhood cancer, along with other ancillary services such as mental health therapy, various forms of counseling, family programs, art and music therapy, and more. Everything the Foundation does is to help further their longstanding mission of erasing the side effects of pediatric cancer, including Industrial Arts Therapy.
The Industrial Arts program at AHF is a STEM-based, educational therapy program that allows children to apply the freedom of movement as a form of rehabilitation. Tightening a bolt or successfully threading a needle gives the child a feeling of accomplishment all the while exercising fine motor skills important for cognition, working memory and impulse control – all factors affected through childhood cancer.
“Our Industrial Arts program is so much more than simple diversionary therapy for these kids,” said Daniel Fosbinder, Industrial Arts Manager at the Foundation. “They get to problem-solve, learn new skills, use new tools and see their project take shape, all while having a sense of accomplishment when they see it through to completion.”
Serving a multipurpose function, the Industrial Arts Therapy program first introduces and educates a STEM-based trade to children, and secondly treats and improves many deficits that result from childhood cancer and chemotherapy treatment, including behavior, memory, learning and coordination deficits. As part of the program, childhood cancer patients, survivors and their siblings take on various projects, from repairing an engine to basic “shop” skills to putting together full car build kits.
Austin Hatcher Foundation boys help power up BOOSTane Bronco
At the end of 2022, BOOSTane Octane Engineering was driving their “Fandango” Ford Bronco through Chattanooga on their way to the 2022 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. The high-performance fuel company stopped by the Austin Hatcher Foundation garage, where they met two young boys in the Industrial Arts therapy program who helped power up the Bronco with a few finishing touches. The boys, one in current treatment and the other a pediatric cancer survivor, built the Bronco’ spare tire cargo rack and then attached it to the car.
"I was so excited to have the opportunity to work with the team over at AHF on our BOOSTane Bronco build,” said Ian Lehn, founder of BOOSTane. “Getting to not only work with the kids, but learning how the intricate work that we were doing on the installation also doubled as cognitive therapy for them was incredible. Seeing the young boys excited to be building something was incredible in itself, but that it was also helping with their recovery was truly moving. The people at AHF have built something incredibly innovative and nurturing for those who need it most. The BOOSTane team was blessed to be able to be a part of it."
The now-finished Bronco was then on display at the SEMA Show in Las Vegas and continued its off-road adventure, which is shared on Instagram at @BOOSTaneWorld.
Foundation Continues to Expand Car Build Projects
Not counting the BOOSTane Bronco’s finishing touches, the Austin Hatcher Foundation has completed 16 full car builds since the nonprofit’s founding in 2006. The Foundation is constantly looking for new car build projects and partners to continue Industrial Arts Therapy. Anyone interested in having the foundation customize their next SEMA Show build or personal vehicle, or anyone interested in donating parts, cars or financial assistance to the program can contact foundation Industrial Arts Manager Daniel Fosbinder at firstname.lastname@example.org.