Thursday, April 10, 2008

Clothing Designer To The Stars Turns Focus to Kids

Designer to the stars Cary Mitchell, who has designed clothes for some of the biggest names in professional sports, including Tiger Woods, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Emmitt Smith and Ken Griffey, Jr., is turning his time and talent to the community through his Fashion in the Schools program (FITS).

Mitchell’s vision to develop this program was fueled by a childhood diagnosis of dyslexia. He struggled with education, failing the fourth and sixth grades, which decreased his self-esteem. After enrolling in a prestigious private school in his hometown of Richmond, VA, his reading skills improved and so did his self-esteem. His passion for improving the quality of public education for disadvantaged youth and his personal testimony fueled Mitchell to create FITS in 2006.

FITS is administered as an afterschool program for selected students. The four-week program includes a design-based curriculum that introduces students to careers in the design industry (not necessarily fashion design) and allows them to help design unique school uniforms for their school. Program goals include eliminating the competition to have desirable clothing that often distracts students from learning, decreasing the amount of time spent on classroom discipline, and preventing gang members from wearing gang colors and insignia at school.

The program was first implemented in 2006 at Martin Luther King middle school in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was such a success, that it caught the attention of one of the largest financial institutions in the country – Wachovia Bank, NA. Wachovia made a commitment to helping Mitchell implement the program in other Charlotte schools through a grant from its foundation. With a $25,000 grant in hand from the Wachovia Foundation, support from other companies and individuals (including several clients) came in. Mitchell will implement the program in three other Charlotte middle schools by the end of the 2007-2008 school year.

Mitchell shared, "The grant from the Wachovia Foundation and support of several local businesses, individuals and a few of my clients has made FITS a success in Charlotte. My goal is to take this program to school districts across the country."

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Source and photo: studio b public relations

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