Sewing Seeds to Make a Difference


I am a grade 8 teacher at St. Gregory the Great Elementary School in Oakville. My girls are involved with an initiative called Girls Who Game (GWG) sponsored by Dell Technologies, Microsoft and Intel. Girls Who Game is an equity program that provides young girls across North America with the opportunity to learn more about STEM and gaming while exposing them to new ways of applying STEM learning and developing their global competencies. This is our second year participating in Girls Who Game.

Last year, my girls became quite passionate about their build concerning fast fashion. Using Minecraft, they were challenged to create a world where the fashion industry is more sustainable. They designed a world in Minecraft where clothes were exchanged and upcycled and made numerous connections across curriculum areas, and were able to go into depth about important issues, many related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Throughout the project, the girls remained committed to equity, diversity and inclusion, which can be seen in the video of their build.

Out of our sustainability focus, my students started a school-wide uniform drive to help limit the number of clothing items going to landfills and to help those in our community. The initiative was completely free for parents/guardians and is something that students from last year will return to facilitate this year. Last year, countless families donated uniform items to the school and 50 families requested uniform items.
This year, in Girls Who Game, my girls were challenged to focus on consumption and production at St. Gregory. My girls continued the clothing sustainability focus from last year and built a St. Gregory in Minecraft that focused on limiting the amount of uniform items in landfills and the benefits of upcycling. They did this by creating sewing rooms where clothing was upcycled and rooms where clothing was sorted for the uniform drive.


In my Grade 8 classroom, we make sure to spend time exploring trades and skills that we might otherwise not be exposed to. We have cosmetology, woodworking and coding stations that students are able to explore. Students are tasked to “create something that someone could use” using one of the skills they have learned. They make connections to mathematical processes and technology expectations. This year, I wanted students to have the opportunity to actually learn how to upcycle their clothing using basic sewing techniques. Not only would this teach them about sustainability practices, but they would also learn a skill that is not as widely taught.

I submitted the proposal to LSF, asking for funding for three basic sewing machines. A former student, who is now in grade 9, offered to come and teach students how to use a sewing machine and show them basic sewing skills. This was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn a necessary skill and establish a mentorship program between current and past St. Gregory students.

We began with the girls learning how the sewing machine works and how to troubleshoot any problems. The girls then chose what they wanted to create and sketched their designs, including measurements, seams etc. So far, the girls have made scrunchies, different types of bags and other small items.

The next step was to sort through the uniform donations and determine if any items could not be used (stains, rips etc.). This material was to be upcycled to create something new! Note: throughout the year, students began bringing in their own non-uniform clothes to be upcycled instead of throwing them away. Students became interested in using those items, with the bright patterns and cool embellishments to upcycle. This was fortuitous because I thought there would be more uniform items to be upcycled than there were.

Reflection & Celebration

What is the reach of this project? In the spring, the girls were invited to the HCDSB STEAM Innovation Showcase at St. Francis Xavier Secondary School to share their learning about production and consumption as it pertains to uniform items at St. Gregory. Elementary and secondary schools across the board, as well as parents, community members and board representatives, were in attendance. Currently, we are preparing for the second uniform drive. Students are organizing the uniform storage room in order to prepare for the last round of donations beginning June 26th. Soon, parents and guardians will be sent a “wish list” so they can indicate what uniform items they require for next year.

Looking to continue the learning next year, my students will focus more on educating the school community about the benefits of donating and upcycling clothing. Students will be able to visit classrooms and even hold information sessions for parents about how we can make seemingly small changes to make a big impact on our world and limit our footprint. Our students are extremely driven to make a change in our school, community and world at large. A world where fashion does not have to be fast and harmful to our environment.


Check out this presentation to learn more about our project!

9. Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
10. Reduced Inequalities
11. Sustainable Cities and Communities
12. Responsible Consumption and Production
13. Climate Action
15. Life on Land
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