A group of Grade 10 and 11 fashion students at Centre Wellington District High School have been working hard to make children with terminal illness feel like super heroes.
The class was recently approached by Guelph teacher Kate Heasman and asked if they would be interested in a sewing project in support of Kick-it-Capes, an initiative that provides colourful capes to children battling severe illnesses such as cancer.
The project was started by Kingston’s Tara McCallan as an offshoot of her support blog Happy Soul Project. The site began as a place to chronicle her life experience after learning her daughter Reid, nicknamed “Pip”, had Down syndrome. It has since grown to become a valuable resource for others who have children with special needs and aims to celebrate the beauty of differences.
“Happy Soul Project is about striving to be grateful no matter what happens in life,” McCallan writes on her website. “It’s about accepting the life fate gave you, seeing the beauty in the challenges and the hope in hardships. It’s about finding joy unexpectedly, becoming a kinder person and continuing to always have an open mind.”
When McCallan learned her friend’s son had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, she wanted to do something to help. She fashioned a simple super hero cape for him to wear when he was in the hospital and soon other children were requesting one too.
Since then the project has gone viral, with nearly 400 capes donated worldwide.
Heasman approached CWDHS fashion teacher Tracy Brubacher and her class recently put the finishing touches on 27 of the capes in three different colours and sizes.
“Kate brought the idea and I kind of had an instant connection because I also have a daughter with Down syndrome, so when she told me [about Tara’s daughter] and the project … I said we’d be more than happy to do it,” Brubacher said. She explained the classroom was set up like an assembly line, with students taking turns on various stages of the cape production, from sewing to cutting to logo creation.
“Most of them are first-time sewers,” she said. “But when I spoke to the students about it, they were all on board. We have a great bunch of kids here at Centre Wellington and they’re always up for doing this kind of thing and they get excited about it. It’s an investment for them, an emotional investment and they worked super hard.”
Once all of the finishing touches are in place, the capes will be sent to McCallan in Kingston, where they will be distributed as needed to children in hospital care.
Heasman says currently there is a waiting list of at least 100 kids that have asked for one, but as the word gets out, help continues to pour in.
“This was our first go at it so we’ve really learned so much,” Heasman said. “Local families donated money and I used that to buy materials so everything ended up about even. I actually had more people who wanted to donate but I asked them to wait until the next project … everyone just kept stepping up.”
Because of the project’s success at CWDHS, Heasman hopes to pitch the idea to other area schools in Wellington County, Guelph and Orangeville. She says they also plan to keep a few capes for local children battling illness.
For more information, to request a cape or to get involved with Happy Soul Project and Kick-it-Capes visit www.happysoulproject.com or www.facebook.com/happysoulproject.