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Beer and Legos: Western alumna organizes building competition at brewery

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Rachel Andrews, Founder of Inner Child Studio, adjusts the Bellingham Landmark submissions before being judged on Monday, Jan. 25 at Aslan Brewing Company. //Photo by Tyler Hillis

Pitchers of beer met buckets of Legos at Aslan Brewing Company in a Lego-building competition that raised money for Inner Child Studio last night.

An estimated 200 participants, mostly families, competed to build their favorite Bellingham landmarks on Monday, Jan. 25 from 6-9 p.m. The creations ranged from Bellingham City Hall to the Horizon Fairbanks ship docked in Bellingham Bay.

Twenty percent of the beer and soda sales were donated to Inner Child Studio, a nonprofit that brings free games to people of all ages throughout Bellingham, according to Inner Child Studio’s website.

Inner Child Studio has hosted multiple Lego nights at Aslan Brewing Company and other local pubs such as Kulshan Brewing Company in the past.
The Aslan-hosted events are casual and fun, said Rachel Andrews, a Western alumna and founder of Inner Child Studio.

Andrews founded Inner Child Studio in 2014 to share her collection of more than 120 lbs of Legos, according to the organization’s website.

“I realized I wanted to bring play to people as much as possible, and especially adults, because there’s nothing as wonderful as seeing a grown-up act like a kid again,” Andrews said.

Andrews has been interested in the power of play since her childhood. Now, she enjoys seeing the joy it brings to her family and friends, she said.

“I have always played with Legos and started building my childhood collection again when I had children of my own,” Andrews said in an email.

She recalled a time when she invited a close friend with a disability to her house to play with her Lego collection.

“I could see how much joy she got from it and how good it was for her to be building things and learning, and working on her dexterity,” Andrews said.

Now, Andrews hauls a stockpile of Legos, educational board games, video games and dexterity games normally stored in her garage to places such as the Max Higbee Center, a nonprofit that provides recreational programs for people with disabilities.

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Mike Duryee sits with his family as his children work together to create a Bellingham landmark out of Legos on Monday, Jan. 25, at Aslan Brewing Company. // Photo by Tyler Hillis

Although the organization does not have a physical location, Andrews hopes to one day build a studio where anyone can come play.

Peter Maguire, a sociology student at Western, said he was surprised but thought it made sense to see a wide range of people in attendance at the Lego build competition.

“I’m really thrilled about the idea of stimulating the mind in ways that aren’t so organized around electronics such as Ipads and all that jargon,” Maguire said. “So just to see people in general going back and playing with the good ‘ol Lego can’t really be beaten, in my opinion.”

Not only does Inner Child Studio work with adults with developmental disabilities, but also with children with autism and after-school programs. The organization brings toys and games to support events with Parent to Parent of Whatcom County, a support group for parents of children with disabilities, Andrews said in email.

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Participants in the Beer and Lego Build Competition picked pieces from a selection of 120 pounds worth of Legos. Organic food and beer was provided by the host venue, Aslan Brewing Company. // Photo by Tyler Hillis

“We can develop different programs for different needs, so if we are working with a group of people and they want to work on their hand-eye coordination and dexterity, we have certain games where you have to balance things,” Andrews said.

Sadie Holwegner, a volunteer coordinator at the Max Higbee Center, said Inner Child Studio usually visits once a month with bins of Lego pieces.

“Inner Child Studio provides a space for all of these members of varying abilities to create and use their own imagination and work with their hands,” Holwegner said.

Inner Child Studio also caters to other services for persons living with emotional, social, cognitive or physical challenges, including senior centers, foster child and social services organizations, veterans’ groups, hospitals and homeless shelters.
Visit Inner Child Studio’s website for more information or to donate.




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