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Creative Charity: Doing Good with Design

Michigan Creative
Michigan Creative

As a young person in my senior year (what!?) of college, it’s a little crazy to think I’ll be going out into the real world (or back to my parents’ house) in just a few months. How am I ready for the workforce?

I’m actually about to go to a career fair later today, and I couldn’t be more nervous. Even after two relevant internships (including the wild ride known as Michigan Creative) along with freelance and workplace experience, I still don’t feel like I’ll really stand up against the many other great Spartans who’ll be there this afternoon. If only I’d done more design projects and charity work…

This is exactly what I was thinking five minutes ago before I realized I’ve been doing both. In Michigan State’s Out of the Box group this semester, I’ve gotten the most rewarding use of my skills to date. The group? Ten MSU students from the College of Communication Arts and Sciences. The mission? Using their skills in design, video, journalism, and advertising to help nonprofits.

This year, we’re helping the The Disabled Traveler, a Michigan-based nonprofit that outlines all accessibility concerns in national parks in the United States. By photographing the trails and other areas of the park, potential visitors can see which areas of which parks are accessible before visiting, informing their decision about which park to visit.

The current Disabled Traveler website.

The current Disabled Traveler website.

Out of the Box is helping by creating a new website, logo, print materials, and social media for The Disabled Traveler, as well as photographing some parks for them. In the fall, we covered Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and on our spring break this March, we’ll be covering Bryce and Zion National Parks in southern Utah. Creative charity work couldn’t be more fun!

The New Disabled Traveler website.

The New Disabled Traveler website.

It all sounds nice enough just reading about it, but to those with accessibility concerns, it really is important. I’d never thought about it before, but our trip to Indiana Dunes opened my eyes to the necessity of the project. In the western area of the park, there was only one trail deemed accessible. Sounds okay on paper, but the trail was only a concrete circle, measuring about ⅒ of a mile. Needless to say, you couldn’t really take in the park’s majesty on such an insignificant trail.

Then something the charity’s founder, Ron Wilmers, brought up to us came to mind. Not everyone with accessibility concerns is limited to the accessible trails and not everyone with accessibility concerns uses a wheelchair.

That is why the cause is so important. So many travelers with these concerns want to go to national parks, but not all of them are necessarily only using the accessible trails. That is why the charity covers all the areas of the parks, including the visitor centers, parking lots, and the non-accessible trails.


Along than the photography, the other creative charity work has been a blast. It feels great to use our specific skills to help others. So why don’t you do the same? Using the skills you’ve worked so hard to learn for creative charity work is fun and rewarding. Just a few hours a week can help people a lot more than you might think.

If you’re interested in helping to fund our trip to Utah, you can donate here. Even $5 or $10 makes a difference.

So maybe I’m not so underqualified. I’m a still a little nervous, but I can do this. Off to the career fair, wish me luck!