local entrepreneur gives natural urban play a new twist

julian abele park stick-lets
Photo Credit: Christina Kazakia

While out to dinner one night, Rhode Island School of Design grad student Christina Kazakia recounted favorite childhood memories with her friends.  The common theme among those memories?  Outdoor play.

For her thesis project, Kazakia focused her research on outdoor play.  She eventually honed in on the ways children play with fallen sticks.  Sticks provided open-ended opportunities for both imaginative and construction play.

Building on that concept, Kazakia wanted to find ways to bridge outdoor and imaginative play with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) concepts.  Kazakia now lives in Philadelphia.  Since many adults she spoke with fondly recalled fort building and similar play, she wanted to encourage more of this type of play, particularly for children in urban areas.

An Idea is Born

Against this backdrop, Kazakia designed and created Stick-lets.  Stick-lets are flexible silicone bands that allow children to quickly build structures in a variety of environments.  Stick-lets are simple connectors that encourage outdoor structure-building, problem-solving, imaginative play, and collaboration.

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Photo Credit: Christina Kazakia

Stick-lets can fit into a bag or even a jacket pocket, so they are exceedingly portable. They can be used to bundle sticks or bamboo together, and they can even be used to attach structures to chain-link fences.  They come in six different weather-resistant, reusable shapes that allow for folding and twisting into many different positions.

Kazakia envisioned Stick-lets for creating little hideouts and sanctuaries for kids, “There are not many urban parks and playspaces that allow for self-made hideouts. I recall this activity being such a rewarding experience for me as a child growing up with woods in my backyard.”

Photo Credits: Kyle Gronostajski
Photo Credits: Kyle Gronostajski

Expanding Market

Kazakia has held events and exhibits around the city and region to test and showcase her unique invention.  She’s held play sessions at the Schuylkill River Park, Smith Memorial Playhouse, Benjamin Franklin High School, and The Schuylkill Nature Center. Although she’s already sold 10,000 Stick-lets, Kazakia is currently launching a Kickstarter campaign for the final production mold, hoping to raise $36,000 by June 17.

Photo Credit: Christina Kazakia
Photo Credit: Christina Kazakia

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