ORANGE COUNTY (CBSLA) — A local retired furniture manufacturer found a creative solution to keep the children of first responders and essential workers safe while in childcare during the coronavirus pandemic.
When the Orange County YMCA needed a solution for social distancing in their child care centers, inventor and a volunteer Tony Spriggs had the answer.
“They’re very basic. Just glue the PVC together,” Spriggs said. “The difficult part was to sew the canvas because the tarps weren’t the right size.”
As the YMCA responded to more essential workers needing childcare during the crisis, they needed a way to keep the children apart.
“When it got to 10 and required social distancing, what we call stable groups, where the same children are in the same group with the same kids every day…we needed a better way to keep them separated,” said YMCA Orange County CEO Jeff McBride “So we called Tony and said ‘Is there any way you can help us to keep the kids separated?'”
Spriggs, a 30-year YMCA volunteer, went straight to his sewing machine in his San Clemente garage and designed portable classroom dividers for YMCA child care sites across the county and has paid for it all.
“The first design I put together I thought, ‘All of these rooms are open and airy and they have a great time in here.’ I put clear plastic in there and I took it into one of the sites to get it tested, and actually, all of the providers started laughing. They knew the first things the kids were going to do is put their hands on it, their faces on it.”
“So I had to come up with something a little different so I did this,” said Spriggs. “It was kid-approved.”
Last week, Spriggs’ dividers were installed in a YMCA gym in Fullerton for healthcare workers at a nearby hospital who needed a quiet and semi-private place to rest and take a shower.
At the YMCA, what was once a big room is now divided into two. The makeshift walls have been jazzed up with kids’ artwork and inspirational sayings.