By: Kristi Love
For more than 15 years Sewing Opportunity Never Ending (SONE) has supported the Sew N Know Program serving over 2,500 students in the District of Columbia. Recognized as an official DC Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) program the Sew N Know program has effectively operated in more than a dozen DPR facilities, many of which are located in some of the most economically challenged areas of the District. SONE’s mission is to change the nature of economic conditions for disadvantaged and minority individuals through the establishment of community based tutoring, training, and skill-development programs.
The primary focus of the Sew N Know program is to introduce thousands of the District’s youth to the art, science, and business of apparel construction within the fashion industry. The vision of the program is to effectively teach sewing disciplines in order to build youth’s self-confidence, explore their creativity, learn entrepreneurial skills, and ultimately assist them to become economically self-sufficient adults. These are critical growth areas in a time when the creative economy is becoming more and more established as a viable industry to pursue a sustainable career.
Janice Rankins or as the youth call her “Ms. Janice” is the Director of Sew N Know program. She has more than 50 years of experience as a Master Seamstress. Ms. Janice founded the Sew N Know program 15-years ago to give youth interested in sewing the opportunity to still learn the art since Home Economics was removed from the standard school curriculum. At the young age of 13, Mrs. Rankins was exposed to a similar sewing and fashion design program in Los Angeles, California. The program helped her get her first professional exposure as a custom design intern working for Paramount Studios.
On Saturday, June 3rd the Sew N Know program celebrated their 10th annual spring/summer fashion show at the Southeast Tennis Learning Center (SETLC). “Youth who participate in the capstone fashion show have the opportunity to showcase their acquired sewing craft and partake in a meaningful art experience. The fashion show left parents in awe of their children’s sewing ability and confidence walking down the runway”, explained Raji Rankins the Director of SONE and son of Mrs. Rankins.
All District youth participating in the after-school program at the SETLC have the opportunity to be a part of the Sew N Know program. This Fall (2017) the Sew N Know program anticipates extending their program to Barry Farms Recreation Center to facilitate another after-school program 2 days a week.