How FFSC Youth from a historic high school are creating the next generation of fashion

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Thanks to a generous $15,000 grant from the Regional Arts Commission, 15 teens enrolled in Fathers & Families Support Center’s (FFSC) Youth Leadership & Development Program were introduced to the art of sewing and clothing design, culminating in a spectacular fashion show last Wednesday at Scene Event Space, downtown on Washington Avenue.

Guided by seasoned professionals from the fashion industry, our youth delved into various sewing techniques, ranging from hand stitching and embroidery to crocheting and operating sewing machines. They also learned about appliques, using a serger and even creating patterns.

“Our youth need these transformative experiences to give them hope and potential career paths,” explained Leo Vinson, FFSC director of youth services. “Thanks to the generosity of the Regional Arts Commission, we saw firsthand how nurturing creativity through sewing helped our youth discover a newfound sense of purpose, confidence, and self-expression.”

Since 2002, FFSC’s Youth Leadership & Development Program (YLDP) assists youth and young adults, ages 14-24, (many of whom do not typically have active or fully involved parents in their lives) develop successful paths to thriving futures. In the program, youth engage in a minimum 10-week program that focuses on personal development, goal setting, career exploration and education obtainment.

In 2023, nearly 100 at-risk youth were paired with trained mentors and began making positive lifestyle and career choices. Also last year, 78% of teens enrolled in YLDP decreased risky behaviors.