Recycle crayons for special needs children

October 24, 2003|by LISA TEDRICK PREJEAN

Are there broken crayons at your house? They can be recycled and made into crayons large enough to be used as therapy tools for children with special needs.

Local mother Ramona Kettelle is seeking the donations for her Color With Me Project so she can create easy-to-hold crayons for children who would be unable to color otherwise.

She and her husband, David, melt the donated crayons and pour them into candy molds to create larger crayons in the shapes of animals, airplanes or other child-friendly shapes.

They hope other children will benefit from a tool that has helped their 19-month-old son, Benjamin, who has Apert Syndrome.

Children who have the syndrome often are born with fused fingers. Even after numerous surgeries, fine motor skills can be challenging.


The Kettelles were introduced to the unique crayon concept by Carol E. Miller-Schultz, a birth to age 5 teacher for the Washington County Board of Education Early Childhood Intervention Program.

Miller-Schultz says one day while she was visiting South County Head Start, she saw the crayons and thought they would be perfect for some of her clients.

"I'm always looking for new ways for the children to have traditional experiences like coloring," Miller-Schultz says.

The crayons were created by the South County Head Start staff last spring as part of an Earth Day recycling lesson, says teacher Amy Lum.

They wanted to reuse old crayons, and cook Tammy Ambos suggested they pour melted crayons into candy molds.

The idea worked, much to the delight of the children, Lum says.

The Kettelles would like to make at least 100 boxes of the crayons - enough for all the children in the county's Early Intervention Program. Each box of crayons will contain about eight primary colors. They'd also like to send the boxes to parents across the country each time a child with Apert Syndrome is born.

She says she has a strong desire to help other families who have children with special needs.

"If somebody had done that to me, I can't tell you what that would have meant to me as a mother," Kettelle says. "The thought of what we can do with these crayons is so exciting."

She hopes that local groups will want to help out as a service project.

The Kettelles remove the paper on the crayon pieces, sort them by color into mini-loaf aluminum pans and then melt them in the oven on low heat. The melted crayons are poured into candy molds to harden. The Kettelles found that the mini loaf pans are too small and would like to start using coffee cans for the melting process.

"We've made it into a family project," Kettelle says. "We have fun as a family. On Saturday night, we'll all sit around the table picking paper off."

The Kettelles have three other children: Danielle, 6; Timothy, who will be 3 in December; and Tyler, 4 months. They'd like businesses to donate the small boxes used for packaging the crayons and to cover the cost of printing fliers announcing the program.

Kettelle has placed drop-off boxes at several community locations. In addition to used and broken crayons, she's asking for empty coffee cans and shoe boxes.

Wal-Mart donated banana boxes to hold the donations.

Drop-off box locations include Hagerstown Seventh-day Adventist Church, Willowbrook Seventh-day Adventist Church, Zion United Church of Christ, Heritage Academy, Mount Aetna Elementary School, Eastern Elementary School, Marshall Street School and Broadfording Christian Academy.

For information about the project, call Kettelle at 301-745-4070.

Lisa Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail. Send e-mail to her at

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