Junior Braedon Guenther started a non-profit that provides kids with an equal opportunity to compete in Destination Imagination.
Destination Imagination (DI) is a program that inspires young individuals to use creativity and other skills to achieve a certain goal. The program requires teams to work together, construct, design, and eventually showcase their project. DI is such an empowering program because it requires participants to think on their feet, use creativity to work around problems, and teaches students how to put their brains together in order to reach a common goal. Thomas Jefferson Spartan Braedon Guenther has been participating in DI for 11 years. He describes the importance of using creativity in DI and the opportunities it provides for its participants. “Creativity is rapidly becoming very important in society as more and more tasks become automated, since robots will never be able to be creative.”
Yes, Destination Imagination is a very powerful program, but it is also an expensive experience and requires a great deal of time, money, and materials. Whether it be fees required to compete or the price of materials needed to solve the challenge, teams spend an average $750 on a single project. Not all teams have access to the financial resources they need to compete in DI. In fact, during the 2018-19 season for DI, only 7.7 percent of teams competing were from Title 1 schools. This means that not only are these teams at a huge disadvantage competitively— especially when competing against more well off teams—but they’re less likely to continue to pursue the opportunities these competitions have to offer in the long run. These students then aren’t able to take full advantage of the opportunities the program has to offer and are inherently less likely to learn the skills that one can attain through DI.
Guenther was troubled by this economic instability and decided to make a change. Nearly one year ago, he made a selfless choice in regards to the unequal opportunities for participants in Destination Imagination. Guenther founded the Materials Equity Program for DI Colorado in hopes to even the playing field for competitors and give every team an equal chance regardless of financial situations. When describing his vision for starting the program Guenther simply explained, “I realized that I could actually do something to fix the problem I saw.” The Materials Equity Program collects donations which are later distributed to the teams. These donations are both materials that the team can use for their project, money that goes toward paying for the registration fee to compete, and finally gift cards to places such as Home Depot and Ace Hardware, where teams can collect the materials themselves.
Destination Imagination is an amazing opportunity for kids of all ages to develop life long skills and meet new people. These opportunities should not be overshadowed by the overwhelming price of competing. Guenther should be applauded for his vision to see the financial problem many teams face in DI. His thoughtfulness and accountability allowed him to make a difference in the DI community. He is providing countless kids with the opportunity to learn and grow as people, which is truly inspiring. If you see your fellow Spartan, Braedon Guenther, around the halls, make sure to praise his charitable work. If you or someone you know is interested in making a Tax-Exempt Charitable Donation to the Materials Equity Program, please visit this site. In the “special instructions” field or memo field on a check write Materials Equity Program or MEP. This is an incredible opportunity to help children develop valuable skills that will benefit them for the rest of their life.