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Southwest Airlines Community

Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School

Ana
Employee
Employee

In celebration of our 50th Anniversary, Southwest Airlines donated 50,000 pounds of used aircraft leather seat coverings to the Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) district to support the expansion of our Repurpose with Purpose (RwP) program to the public education community – for the first time ever!

 

Repurpose with Purpose is a global sustainability initiative that upcycles items such as leather seat coverings and transforms them into new products. Through RwP, Southwest Airlines supports communities by helping to provide employment, skills training, and donated products. Since 2016, more than 1.6 million pounds of leather seat covers have been donated, helping Southwest reduce the amount of waste it sends to landfills while also generating social and economic opportunities for communities.

 

Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School supports a unique sustainability design challenge for more than 6,000 K-12 MNPS Visual Arts Department students in a 3D environment. Nashville-based nonprofit PENCIL provided support on the project by accepting and providing storage for the leather. Supporting their workforce development initiative, Turnip Green Creative Reuse hired local community members to process, deconstruct, clean, and assemble Flight to Our Future art kits for the students. Southwest also provided leather tools for each participating class so the students would be set up for success. More than 2,800 Flight to our Future art kits were distributed to MNPS elementary students. In this project, students used Southwest seats and other sustainable resources to tell a visual story representing themselves about their future.

 

 

 

 

Using the repurposed seat covers, MNPS visual art middle and high school students were empowered to use their creativity to design a new product or a wallet art therapy kit for Help Heal Veterans, a nonprofit based in California—and Repurpose with Purpose partner—that provides free kits to hospitalized and homebound veterans to use as a therapeutic and rehabilitation tool. 

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Academic High 9th Grade Student, Caroline Stone’s, wallet design was selected as the winning design for Help Heal Veterans. Help Heal Veterans will manufacture a limited edition of Caroline's wallet design for distribution in 2022. Southwest will fly Caroline and her parents, along with her teacher Ian Isom, to San Diego in early 2022 to visit Help Heal Veterans where they will see Caroline’s wallet design in production.

 

As the grand finale of the project, BNA Arts in the Airport partnered on the project to elevate the student artwork to gallery status.  A selection of student designs were chosen to be part of the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School exhibit at BNA’s Arts in the Airport, a program that showcases the region’s visual and performing arts. The exhibition celebrates the students’ work in the sustainability space and will be on display for the enjoyment of Nashville International’s passengers and visitors through May 2022.

 

Nashville school trip. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)Nashville school trip. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)Southwest and BNA hosted MNPS students, parents, and teachers for a behind-the-scenes tour of Southwest’s BNA operation—highlighting careers in aviation—and ended the tour on Southwest’s Concourse D to unveil the student art on display, complete with congratulations from Southwest Customers and Employees in the gate area who joined in the celebration. “Teachers have reported a high level of student engagement on the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School project,” said Allison Ross, MNPS Visual Arts Coordinator.  “We were excited to be the pilot program partner and look forward to continuing and growing the program.”

 

In this project, students used Southwest seats and other sustainable resources to tell a visual story representing themselves about their future. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)In this project, students used Southwest seats and other sustainable resources to tell a visual story representing themselves about their future. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)We believe in living responsibly, respecting our resources, and sharing our passion with others – because community is more than a place, it’s at the Heart of what brings us together. Thanks to MNPS Visual Art teachers and students for joining us in this expansion of Repurpose with Purpose. If your travels take you to Nashville International Airport over the next few months be sure to check out the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School exhibit on Concourse D.

 

Be sure to check out the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School exhibit on Concourse D. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)Be sure to check out the Repurpose with Purpose Goes to School exhibit on Concourse D. (Photos courtesy of Katie Kauss)