The Urban Stitches Foundation is a free sewing instruction program that serves at-risk teens in Pittsburgh’s East End. Founder Tameka Reed designed the program to fill the void created by area schools when traditional home economics programs were cancelled. Finding sewing instruction in any school curricula is increasingly rare; replaced by subjects such as drug and alcohol abuse prevention, parenting skills and technology instruction. The foundation’s mission is to provide young people arts training and encouragement, help them gain life skills, and provide them with a safe environment to gather, learn something new, and have fun.
“When I learned that Pittsburgh public schools had eliminated their home economics Programs and sewing elective classes, I thought it would be cool to offer free sewing classes to help area teens learn a creative and beneficial skill.” –Tameka Reed
Partnering with the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh’s TechGYRLS program, Urban Stitches Foundation encourages creative learning outside the classroom – and reinforce disciplines such as patience, the ability to follow instructions, math and mechanical skills, independence, and self-confidence. The hands-on, tactile sewing skills the foundation teaches provides a way for youth to comprehend math concepts such as fractions and measurement conversion. The program also opens doors to potential career paths such as tailoring, custom-made clothing, and home décor. By encouraging kids to use self-directed, creative energy to obtain immediate, tangible project outcomes the foundation extends children’s opportunities to learn abstract principles like mathematics beyond the classroom. To find out more about Urban Stitches Foundation or to sign up for the latest crop of sewing workshops, visit their website.
Urban Stitches, a project of the YWCA Greater Pittsburgh, is a collaborative pilot project integrating math-based sewing into the YWCA’s TechGYRLS program at the Homewood-Brushton Center. The project engages 30 girls in grades 6-12 from Homewood, Lincoln, and Larimer, encouraging creative learning outside the classroom—and reinforces disciplines like patience, the ability to follow instructions, math/mechanical skills, independence, and self-confidence. Urban Stitches will serve as a hands-on, tactile way for girls to comprehend math concepts such as fractions and measurement conversion, but also focuses on three issues for teen girls: the dearth of public school art programming due to budget cuts; deficient math and reading skills; and environment-induced high levels of stress that contributes to academic underperformance.