For two years, I worked as a project member and then project lead for Design for America. I worked with my team members to create the Empathy Box project.
The Empathy Box is meant to facilitate empathy in the autism community through the sharing of tangible objects. Someone of the spectrum, or someone who supported them, would fill a box with items of personal importance to them, decorate the box, and if capable add a personal note. That box would then be given to someone that is important to the box-holder -- a cousin, an aunt, a neighbor, a teacher -- in order to give that person a personal look into their world. New recipients of the box would be encouraged to put their own items or notes inside, and then pass on the box to someone else. At any point in the chain, holders of the Empathy Box would be encouraged to stories of their experience either directly to us or via our online portal, thus making the collective stories that accumulated public.
We gave out over a 100 Empathy Boxes, most at a popular walk for autism in Rhode Island. Response was enthusiastic, with most boxes getting passed on and stories being uploaded both on our web portal and via direct messaging. The project continues in part as a classroom exercise in Loyola High school [link
This project won grant funding from Brown University's Social Innovation Initiative and the Pollination Project.
Look below for a project review made by the team!