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Toymakers' Workshop for Red Hook Kids Launches Fundraising Campaign

Red Hook Makerspace
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Kristina Loew

RED HOOK — A neighborhood workshop series for young toymakers is looking to raise funds to expand their classes, which teach children how to create their own trinkets using tools, basic mechanics and recycled material.

The Red Hook Makerspace shows kids the inner workings of simple gadgets as they learn techniques like welding, using a glue gun and installing motors, said Sue Williams, 31, who launched the workshop two weeks ago.

“It’s much more exciting if you can make it and own it yourself,” said Williams, who co-founded the Makers Toolbox, a company that creates make-it-yourself toys for children.

Once a week, the “makerspace” meets at a local community center and calls in children around the neighborhood to learn how to create different toys from a “Tin Can Guitar” to propeller-powered vehicles and “the scribbler,” a battery-powered cardboard box fitted with four sketch pens that rapidly scribble out patterns, she said.

The Scribbler
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Tom Martinez

Last week, Williams launched a campaign to raise $6,000, which will go toward materials like motors, batteries, small tools as well as drills, glue guns, saws and soldering irons. The money will keep the camp afloat for about three months, she said.

While the classes are geared toward children aged 6 to 12, Williams invites adults and older children to join in the workshop, which she hopes to turn into an after-school program or even add a mobile food truck-like “makerspace” to travel the neighborhood.

Williams chose Red Hook for the series because of the inventive spirit that exists in the neighborhood, she said.

“No matter what you need make, you can get it made in Red Hook,” said Williams, adding that guest experts from the neighborhood will be speaking at the weekly classes so children can meet people who “make things for a living.”

The Red Hook Makerspace has been working out of Red Hook Houses West for the last few weeks but Williams soon hopes to move on to other community spaces in the neighborhood.

“I thought it was wonderful,” said Jaqueline Jackson, 60, who was born and raised in the Red Hook houses and assisted Williams in bringing the workshop to the houses’ young residents.

“It gives them a chance to be creative,” said Jackson, who attended the class herself.

While the workshop allows children to tinker with toys, it also teaches them skills they can apply to other gadgets or even careers.

Williams also plans to start a program for young adults, ages 17 to 23, which will instruct them on basic trade skills like sheet rocking and framework.

“It’s not just a hands-on skill,” Williams said. “It’s teaching them how to be independent.”