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DS Smith supports classroom design programme to help children with asthma

DS Smith develops prototypes for students as part of “Designing Our Tomorrow” classroom initiative.

In partnership with the University of Cambridge, DS Smith has developed a number of prototypes from designs by secondary school students. The goal was to design a type of packaging which would contain everything a young child with asthma would need, whether they’re at home, at school or elsewhere; and one which would help reduce anxiety of children with asthma by using child-friendly design themes.


The programme, called Designing Our Tomorrow (DOT), was founded by researchers at the University of Cambridge, and brings real-world problems into classroom design and technology sessions in secondary schools, encouraging the next generation of UK designers and engineers.

Themes included a monkey character where the inhaler and spacer become a banana that the child can ‘feed’ the monkey with and then copy themselves. Other themes include a pack shaped like a cat where the inhalers become mice that are stored in a smaller box shaped like a wedge of cheese; and a folding pack that can hang on a door for easy access at home but can be quickly zipped up and put in a bag to take out.

Five of the best designs were presented by the secondary school students at the British Paediatric Respiratory Society conference in Cambridge in June. Some of the designs were made into prototypes by DS Smith and will be piloted with the NHS in London through the Health London Partnership.

Ian Hosking of Cambridge’s Department of Engineering, who co-leads the Designing Our Tomorrow (DOT) programme, in collaboration with the Faculty of Education said: “Students were tasked with not merely designing packaging but an experience. In other words, we wanted to make it fun and re-frame what education can be – projects like these start to form a broader evidence base of what’s possible. In addition, by working with industry, it takes the project beyond a competition to something that can make a difference to patients and help prevent avoidable asthma deaths in children.”

Russell Turner, Head of Ideation & Solutions of DS Smith’s UK Packaging Division said: "We have loved working alongside these Wimbledon school children to develop innovative prototypes that have the potential to radically transform the experience of children with asthma. We hope that working with us has helped them realise that ideas become more powerful when they become a reality, and shown them how exciting design and engineering can be as a career.”