Meet Lindsey Smith – DXATC Student of the Year.
Lindsey Smith likes to say that she is left-handed and right-mouthed. Born with arthrogryposis amyoplasia multiplex congenita—a condition that causes her joints to become permanently fixed in a bent or straightened position—she has learned to do things differently. She has developed strength in her mouth to accomplish what others are able to do with their hands. While this might hold others back, it hasn’t stopped Lindsey.
As a teenager, she would sketch ideas and floor plans, and ask herself, Why was this built this way? How is that practical for someone in a wheelchair, an elderly person, or a mother with a stroller? Watching her physical therapists at Shriner’s Hospital, who were innovative and creative in helping others, Lindsey developed a desire to use her skills to enrich people’s lives.
Lindsey found her way to Dixie Applied Technology College, where she enrolled in drafting and design. From her first day in the program, she took learning to a new level and pushed others to rise to that level, inspiring them with her humor, charm and sheer determination. While she strives for excellence, she also puts others at ease with an unassuming giggle.
After completing a full series of drafting classes, students in the program are required to put their knowledge to the test in a final project. They are encouraged to do something commercial, but if they choose residential, they are required to design at least two houses. Students make a final presentation where students, faculty, and guests critique their work. Typically, the students will display and talk through five to ten blueprints. But not Lindsey.
Instead of meeting the minimal requirement for her final project, Lindsey designed and drafted well over a hundred drawings, and added an animated fly around. She got on a roll and couldn’t stop! In fact, instructor Bill McMurrin finally made her stop. With a lifelong passion born from her own circumstances, Lindsey had found a way to express the ideas that had been growing in her mind for years. She was finally bringing to life a community where people with special needs could live and work independently.
Lindsey created a full city block development with independent homes and assisted living apartments for people with a myriad of physical challenges. Then, she thought of other needs and added a building for dining, socializing, exercise, medical appointments, and physical therapy. But she didn’t stop there. She knew that work was important, so she created a place where residents could work by partnering with companies to allow residents to “commute” electronically.
Through her creativity and experience, she has designed environments that go beyond ADA laws; environments that provide real solutions for what people with special needs struggle with on a daily basis. Lindsey designed a way to transport a pan from the stove to the sink—a sink shaped like a skateboard ramp, making it easier to get things in and out. Getting a glimpse of Lindsey’s vision can teach us all how to live beyond our seeming limitations. Lindsey is quick to tell you that “having a disability doesn’t make you special. There are no excuses!”
Lindsey recently won Student of the Year at the state level. She tied for first place with Southwest ATC student, Bennett Olsen. They will both serve this next year as Utah College of Applied Technology’s Students of the Year.
So, what’s next for Lindsey Smith? She’s looking for investors who are willing to help make her design a reality. Helping others has been, and will continue to be, her lifelong motivation.