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USM Design Students Collaborate on Class Project with Area Nonprofit

Wed, 04/03/2024 - 02:59pm | By: Van Arnold

Kuntry Kids

Design students at The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) employed their special skills to create graphic design pieces for a Pine Belt area nonprofit organization as part of a spring semester course project.

The ART 492 Special Problems in Art (Designing for Social Good)  – a design practice that puts human needs as the driving force for creating design work - focuses on how design students’ work can be utilized to help those in their community.

“The objective of the course is to show how the students can give back to their community to enhance their civic duty,” said Linh Nguyen, assistant professor of art and design at USM. “The course focuses on preparing students to transition from academic learning to real industry practice.”

The students presented ideas for brand awareness and development to “Kuntry Kidz,” a Pine Belt organization developed to address the lack of positive exposure, to provide accessibility to uplifting programs and positive role models for youth growing up in the South.

Kuntry Kidz Youth Foundation (“KK”) was founded in 2007 by Elisha Barnes-Booth in Collins, Mississippi. Working with many rural students, Kuntry Kidz noticed that those students did not have the same learning opportunities as their urban counterparts, who are exposed to better technology, more up-to-date learning equipment, and more course preparation, such as the ACT.

Design Student

USM student Jocelyn Reese created the winning graphic design for Kuntry Kidz

As part of the collateral design materials, students developed a new logo to better capture Kuntry Kidz’ mission. On Monday, March 25, students delivered a client presentation whereby Kuntry Kidz representatives selected the winning design created by Jocelyn Reese, a native of Jackson, Miss., majoring in graphic design.

“There are different types of service-learning practices,” said Nguyen. “For this class, we practiced indirect service-learning, where students work most of the time independently from the nonprofit organization. We have yet to see how the design work has impacted Kuntry Kidz, but we will have that opportunity on April 5.”

On Friday, April 5, the collateral materials will be used by Kuntry Kidz for the first time at the annual Hattiesburg Half Marathon, 10K5K fundraising event/exposition. This year eight area organizations will serve as the Hattiesburg Half Marathon beneficiaries, including Kuntry Kidz. The Half Marathon, 10K · 5K races will be held on Saturday, April 6, beginning at 7 a.m. in downtown Hattiesburg.

Nguyen and members of the class plan to assist Kuntry Kids in assembling the organization’s booth/table during the fundraising expo on April 5. “By doing so, the design students will see how their work will be used and displayed to inform the visitors about Kuntry Kidz,” said Nguyen. “They will experience first-hand how effectively the winning design brings more people to the Kuntry Kidz booth/table.”

On race day, Nguyen and the students will volunteer to help Kuntry Kidz set up their Mile, a stretch of Half Marathon route designated to cheer and support the charity runners with products created by the class.

“We will also serve as part of their cheerleading squad to cheer on the runners from all over the surrounding states running to raise money for social good,” said Nguyen.

To learn more about the Art and Design program at USM, call 601.266.4972.