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Dismantling stereotypes about who sews

Late last month, all 400 students at Coronation Public School in Oshawa were introduced to sewing by the team from .

The Denise Wild team works in schools across the Greater Toronto Area and is comprised of a group of people from various backgrounds, including former professional athletes.

They defy the normal stereotypes of what many may think of a person who enjoys sewing. The team’s goal is to spread the love of sewing and doing it in a way that is very unique and engages kids at the same time.

“We’re proud that we are able to bring back this old art, but over and above that, we are able to bring it back in a different way,” says co-founder Roland Acheampond. “We mentor and motivate kids, break stereotypes and show them it’s all about inclusion. In our program everyone is involved.”

The instructors initially gave the students a tutorial showing them the basics of how to operate the sewing machines. Each session was 40 minutes in length and at the end, each student completed a project. The Grade 5/6 class made wallets or card-holders, lovingly called “cha-ching-things.”

Flexing creative muscles

According to Durham District School Board officials, the program is a way to reach out to students. The activity gives them an opportunity to be creative and build confidence in a safe space.

Grade 6 student Addison loved being able to sew at school.

“Honestly, it’s really fun. Everything is really well explained. I think it’s good for people to learn how to sew because it can help to make crafts or if you want to make your own clothes. It could even become a career,” she said.

Coronation Public School principal Barry Bedford enjoyed seeing the sense of accomplishment on the faces of the students after they participated in the sewing program.

“It is important that we align practices with our ‘Ignite Learning’ priorities, one being equity. It is paramount that our students see themselves represented,” Bedford explains. “The diversity of the group brings so much to the program. So, bringing in groups such as this allows our students and communities to see opportunities for themselves as leaders.”

The Denise Wild Sewing Studio donated two sewing machines to the school.

Bedford says Coronation staff plan to put them to good use by starting the Coronation Sewing Circle for the students.