Alex Schad, '15 Uses Sewing Skills to Outfit African Girls

September 16, 2011

Theatre arts student uses design skills to outfit young African girls

Since the age of three, Alexandra Schad has been sewing.  "It has always been a passion of mine," Schad said.  She is currently a freshman at Bradley, majoring in theatre production with a concentration in costuming.

Four years ago, during her sophomore year of high school, Schad starting using her talents for the greater good. She began making shift dresses for homeless children in Africa.

"I started making the dresses the summer before my mother traveled to South Africa for a working trip through the National Association of Social Workers (NASW). She had made correspondence with Dr. Nobs Mwanda, founder of the COPES SA organization which works to prevent child abuse and to find homes for children whose parents have been diagnosed with AIDS before the parents die. They also provide safe and temporary shelter for homeless street children," Schad said.

Schad talked to Mwanda and decided to put her sewing skills to use. She began by making 40 simple, child-sized shift dresses. Her mother took them to Africa and handed them out to young girls.

"It is essential to clothe and protect the street children, especially the girls, who are frequently sold into sexual slavery. I'm happy to use my skills for something that makes a huge difference in the lives of young girls," Schad said. 

Currently, the dresses are being shipped to Africa along with children's books, small backpacks and other school supplies. 

When she isn't making dresses for children in Africa, Schad keeps her sewing fingers busy working on a variety of other projects.

"In high school I was in charge of costumes for all of the theatre productions, and I hand-sewed about 90 percent of everything that went on stage. I also make some of my own clothes, as well as outfits for my baby cousin. I have done a few commissioned costumes for Halloween and Cosplay events as well," Schad said.

With such a wide array of experience and enthusiasm for her craft, Schad is sure to find success on whichever career path she chooses.

"After graduation, I plan on working as a costumer for touring productions, but I am also considering work in the television and film industries," Schad said.

Story by Ivy Hillman '12