UpCycle Creative Reuse Center is pleased to announce a partnership with Shirlington Pediatric Dentistry and our signature program, Tinker Time. Dr. Shwetha Rai shares our emphasis on families, environmentalism, and creativity, and we are honored that she has chosen to support our local nonprofit and mission. With Dr. Rai’s sponsorship, UpCycle will make Tinker Time free to families when it relaunches the popular program at the end of April 2023.
Dr. Rai and her family have been frequent participants in Tinker Time and other UpCycle programs over the years. When they originally discovered the original location on Mt. Vernon Avenue, they felt “immediately inspired” with the idea of creative reuse and incorporated it into their home with an UpCycle-inspired art station that holds various things such as corks, bottle caps, yarn, pine cones etc. Supporting UpCycle and enthusiastically sharing it with her patients at Shirlington Pediatric Dentistry is a natural extension of her family’s passion for creativity. Says Dr. Rai, “I know that I am using my small business to support a great local community program, but really I am just a mom who wants her kids to have a local place that fuels their creativity, and enriches their community. UpCycle is an Alexandria jewel and a part of my community that I am excited to support!”
UpCycle is deeply grateful for Dr. Rai’s support which enables us to invite even more people to engage in creative reuse. We’re excited to grow together with her family and dental patients in the years ahead.
pictured above: (left) Dr. Rai with her husband, Matt, and children Kalyan and Navya; (right) Kaylan and Navya.
Executive Director, Theresa Esterlund, interviewed Dr. Rai about her background and why she wants to support UpCycle.
We’re very excited for this partnership. Tell our community more about why you chose UpCycle.
I love that Upcycle is a local community organization and that it is geared towards art for children, yet also encourages beautification of our community by turning our trash to treasure. I would love to get the word out that there is a great place in our community like this!
My husband, Matt, and I have always tried to be environmentally conscious in our home and community. When we first discovered UpCycle, we loved the idea of taking something that could be trash and turning it into something beautiful.
In addition, art is close to my heart because my mother is an artist, and she has inspired me my whole life to see something different in the ordinary, to find creative ways to make my art projects and to use what I have. My mother is an amazing artist, but her creativity is her greatest strength, and it made my childhood so colorful! She grew up needing to conform, and color inside the lines, and I often wonder what she would have done if a place like UpCycle was in her backyard. I see my mother’s quirks in my daughter, who doesn’t color within the lines, and has the same creative bone. My daughter, Navya, loves to experiment with different art mediums and make her “creations.” I am not sure where art will take her, but I do know that it is places like UpCylce that foster this growth, and that nurturing this creativity in children is important. I bring my children here to shop for art supplies and have brought my mother too, all of them are like kids in a candy shop and exhibit little self control!
How is art integrated in your dental practice?
Dentistry has always gone hand in hand with art. You will find many dentists who appreciate or make their own art from painting to sculptures and so forth. We are currently working on murals in the office that are fun nods to famous artists or art works. My favorite is the Andy Warhol inspired pop art wall of my kids. My goal with art is to create a space that is fun and interesting to visit, and that my patients will enjoy coming and leave inspired.
Why do you love UpCycle’s Tinker Time?
Tinker time is a LOT of fun! Tinker Time gives kids the space and material to really unlock their creativity. We actually first discovered it with my son, Kaylan, who enjoys building things and using his hands as well. It was fun to meet other people, and also see that everything can be turned into something new and interesting. At home, my kids collect materials for our UpCycle-inspired art station and use them in ongoing projects.
What do you enjoy most about working with children?
When I first started dental school, I did not realize that I enjoyed working with kids right away. I had worked in a pediatric dental office prior to dental school and loved it, but it took years of working with adults to realize that I preferred working with kids. Children make my work a lot of fun, and it doesn’t feel like I am “working.” They have great stories and points of view. They keep every day fresh. And I love that by encouraging good dental habits early, I have the opportunity to set up that foundation and positively impact their entire lives.
For this partnership, you’ll begin by donating a portion of new patient’s fees to UpCycle. What would you like your new and future patients to know about UpCycle?
Anyone can find something useful at UpCycle, and they can breathe new life and beauty into old objects! I met a lovely lady there who told me that she came to UpCycle to get inspired, and when she didn’t have an idea of what to do with her photography, she would look around to see what would get her creative juices flowing. She used the supplies she found to dress up her models, and took such captivating pictures of their very original look. I want to help spread the word about UpCycle, because I know that if they give it a chance, adults as well as kids will leave with a new project to express their creativity.
About UpCycle Creative Reuse Tinker Time
A signature program, Tinker Time is designed to inspire playfulness and creative expression in families with childrens age 3 and older. In this open exploration, you can access a unique collection of materials for inspiration as you create something of your own. Tinker Time is an unstructured time without a specific project. An adult must accompany children ages 12 and younger. Tinker Time has been on a short hiatus as we’ve been hiring new staff and reorganizing our studio space, but we’re relaunching the program at the end of April. Visit our website, join our newsletter, and follow on social media for details.
About Shirlington Pediatric Dentistry
Dr. Shwetha Rai and the kindhearted team at Shirlington Pediatric Dentistry foster a future of bright smiles and stellar habits for kids in Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church, and the Northern Virginia area. Their mission is to provide a cheerful, inviting dental home where you and your child can feel truly known and valued by their dedicated team. Through fun-filled appointments, engaging education, and our preventive, personalized approach, they want to watch your kiddo grow and graduate from their care with lifelong oral care skills. With a warm, modern atmosphere and educational approach, they’re spurring on a fresh sense of wonder and optimism when it comes to visiting the dentist. They love building trustworthy, meaningful friendships with the families in their care. From your newborn bundle of joy to your college-bound teen, they’re honored to walk alongside you and your child with dedicated, compassionate guidance as they grow.
Shirlington Pediatric Dentistry is located at 2700 S Quincy St Ste 305 Arlington, VA 22206.
Are you a business or individual interested in supporting our programing? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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