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This Power of Children Award Winner Makes a Big Change with a Little Fabric

The Power of Children Awards at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis recognize students in grades six through eleven for their philanthropic impact. To date, 72 winners have been selected for their dedication to their projects that contribute to changing the world. In 2018, six winners were chosen. One winner, Ella West, is being acknowledged for her project, Pretty Pockets.

A few small scraps of fabric, a needle, thread, and a little time may not seem like much, but this mix can create a big change. Approximately one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. After being diagnosed with breast cancer, many patients undergo a mastectomy. Thanks to people like Ella, this process becomes a little more manageable. 

Ella always knew she wanted to help breast cancer patients in some way, but was unsure of how she could impact lives. Ella and her mother did some research and found a design to follow online called Pretty Pockets. Pretty Pockets offer a discreet way to carry around post-surgical drains. Ella took this design and ran with it. She met with a breast surgeon to help her create a design that truly meets patients' needs. Pretty Pockets are made of a soft fabric that can be clipped to a patient’s clothing to hold bulbs and drainage tubes in place and prevent skin irritation. They also help patients feel less embarrassed about the tubes. 

After successfully completing her goal of donating one hundred pockets to a local hospital in Danville, Indiana, she was asked to create more. The breast surgeon was so thrilled with how her patients appreciated the Pretty Pockets, she inspired Ella to grow her project into something that would impact hundreds of lives. Ella has donated over one thousand Pretty Pockets to seven different hospitals and continues to make more. The doctors and nurses give feedback on ways to improve the design, and remind her how important she is to these patients.  

Throughout the two years of her project, Ella has received donations from seamstresses, sewing guilds, and fabric stores to further her progress. With the Power of Children Awards grant, Ella plans to purchase starter kits to educate sewing groups and individual seamstresses. These kits will include fabrics, patterns, and safety pins so people can learn how to create Pretty Pockets independently. Ella hopes to continue her vision by inspiring other people to take something small and to create a world of difference. 

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Power of Children Awards