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This is 'sew' good; Goulais students make dresses for African girls (4 photos)

Mountain View Public School students spend recess sewing dresses for girls in need

It’s a heartwarming and charitable way to end off the current school year at Goulais River’s Mountain View Public School.

A group of 10 Mountain View Public School female students, from nine to 13 years old, under the guidance and inspiration of Mountain View teachers Melissa Rains-Vanderburg (Grade 6 and 7 teacher) and Nikki Burke (Grade 4 and 5 teacher), are sitting at sewing machines and making dresses for girls in need in Africa.

The group spends their recess time in the classroom sewing, having begun their work at the start of June.

“They didn’t just ‘give up’ recess, but they’re also super enthusiastic about being here. Everybody wanted to make their own dress and they learned how to sew and learn a skill in the process,” Melissa told SooToday.

The girls are aiming to have the dresses done by Friday June 29, which marks the end of the current school year.

Not only are the students doing a good deed for African girls with charitable hearts, but the project also stemmed from a strategy by teachers Melissa and Nikki to address a classroom problem.

“We were actually having some bullying issues in our class among the girls, so we decided to make a group where we could come together and work out the issues and chat things out. It’s girl empowerment. Then Melissa wanted to get involved, so she came up with this idea of having the girls doing a nice activity for charity, girls helping other girls in need,” Nikki said.

“The project I thought was the best one is with an organization called ‘Dress a Girl Around the World.’ Their mission is to make sure every girl around the world has a dress,” Melissa said.

‘Dress a Girl Around the World’ is based in the U.S., with offices in Canada.

Melissa provided much of the fabric for the dresses for the Mountain View project.

Once the dresses are made, they are shipped to a ‘Dress a Girl Around the World’ ambassador in Alberta, who in turn sends them to Africa, where various international aid and church groups distribute them to girls throughout the continent.

“I would say it’s a go for next school year as well,” Melissa said.

“It’s a really nice vibe in the classroom right now.”

“I knew how to sew a little bit before, but I never made clothing...I thought it was hard at first but after I got the hang of the sewing machine it was easier. It makes me feel good (knowing her dress is going to a girl in need in Africa),” said student Gracey Wright.

“I feel proud to be helping out,” said student Rylyn Hurley, agreeing it’s ‘the Canadian thing to do’ as Canada Day approaches.

Rylyn smiled and said ‘maybe’ when asked if she wanted to be a fashion designer some day.

Gracey prefers plaid patterns, Rylyn likes floral designs, both of them hoping to take part in another ‘Dress a Girl Around the World’ project at Mountain View next school year.


Darren Taylor

About the Author: Darren Taylor

Darren Taylor is a news reporter and photographer in Sault Ste Marie. He regularly covers community events, political announcements and numerous board meetings. With a background in broadcast journalism, Darren has worked in the media since 1996.
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