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Easy-to-grip crayons developed by Fairview native

Fairview Park native Nancy Heiss Morris’s company has been collecting used crayons to create recycled crayons that children with developmental issues can better grip. (Photo courtesy of Effortless Art Crayons)

By KEVIN KELLEY
FAIRVIEW PARK

Learning to color inside the lines may become easier for more children thanks to crayons designed by a Fairview Park native.

Nancy Heiss Morris, a 1999 Fairview High School graduate, is an instructor in special education courses at Gannon University. Morris, who received a bachelor’s degree in early childhood special education at the Erie, Pa. college, saw that many special needs children have difficulty grasping traditionally shaped crayons. This reduced their enjoyment of drawing and writing, she said.

As an instructor at Gannon, she helped developed a larger, triangular-prism shaped crayon that is easier to grip by small children and those with delays in fine motor skill development. In April, Morris and her husband, Jason, formed a for-profit company, Two Sparrows Learning System, to license the design from Gannon and manufacture the crayons.

Sold under the name Effortless Art Crayons, the implements are created from used and recycled crayons the Morrises collect, melt down and pour into molds of the triangular prisms.

The Morrises have applied for a patent on the crayon’s design. The dual triangular ends mean that no matter how a child picks a crayon up, he or she can easily begin coloring, she said.

While originally intended for children with special needs, they design is beneficial for others as well, Morris said.

“They’re really great early learning crayons,” she said. “We’re finding that it’s really a great fit, even for adults.” Persons with arthritis or neurological problems have found the design useful, she added.

Effortless Art Crayons are designed with a unique shape to be used by children at any age or learning level. (Photo courtesy of Effortless Art Crayons)

Currently, the crayon manufacturing is done in their Pennsylvania home.

“Our basement has turned into crayon central,” Morris said. “We can make 100 crayons in a matter of 20 minutes.”

Production depends on the donations of used crayons. For this, Morris appealed to elementary schools in Erie, as well as St. Angela Merici School in Fairview Park, where she graduated in 1996. Her parents, Bob and Linda Heiss, still live in the parish, where she and Jason had their wedding ceremony.

The collections from St. Angela students began in the spring and yielded five or six large boxes filled with used or broken crayons, Morris said. Used crayons have also been received from St. Brendan School and Birch Primary School, both in North Olmsted.

Recycled crayons of the color pink are the most needed, Morris said, as the company recently added that color to its standard pack.

A pack of 10 Effortless Art Crayons is sold for $9.99 at Erie retails stores and on the company’s website at the current sale price of $5.99. Those purchasing online at EffortlessArtCrayons.com can designate a partnering organization, such as St. Angela Merici School, to receive a 50-cent contribution per order.

Morris said she hopes to begin selling through national retailers soon.

“We’re also hoping to break out to other items, such as pens and markers,” she added.

Although Effortless Art Crayons are created by recycling crayons from different manufacturers, the colors end up being largely consistent from package to package, Morris said. Slight variations that might occur simply make each package unique, she added.

Individuals or schools wishing to donate used or unwanted crayons may contact Morris through her website, EffortlessArtCrayons.com.

 

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