Lauren Curwick founded the nonprofit Designing Dreams for a simple reason: She wanted to make a difference in the lives of children battling cancer, and couldn’t find an organization where she felt she was able to connect with those she was helping. Her mother, interior designer Mardel Curwick, came up with the idea of redesigning children’s bedrooms.
“We have been told by families that they stop looking toward tomorrow, graduation and weddings, and begin concentrating on just making it through the day filled with medications and doctor appointments,” says Lauren Curwick. “When they found out about Designing Dreams transforming a bedroom for their child, they had something to look forward to—a positive, definitive event that will be for their child going through something more difficult than most people could imagine.”
Curwick, who is a student at the Medical College of Wisconsin, founded Designing Dreams in 2012, and since then, the organization has redesigned 11 bedrooms for kids with cancer or cancer-like conditions. Families fill out an application on the nonprofit’s website, and if they qualify, Mardel Curwick begins the planning process with them to decide on a theme for the room. The design is kept a surprise for the family and the child up until the reveal a couple of months later.
“The children we work with are incredibly brave and the most positive people I have ever met,” says Lauren Curwick. “Our goal is to give these children and their families something to look forward to in the midst of difficult diagnoses and frequent and painful treatment and procedures and provide hope in their lives. Many of the children we work with spend a great amount of time in their room.”
Mardel Curwick adds: “We have heard from parents that it becomes a space for the whole family to enjoy time together. When a child opens the door to see their room for the first time, it is very emotional. It’s so humbling and gratifying to hear and see the joy that it brings to them. I love getting to know the children and their families. Their strength and courage is such an inspiration.”
Currently, Designing Dreams is working on a bedroom for a child in Milwaukee, and the team is looking to design a room for a child in Manhattan.