Sidekicks to give homeless children something that’s all theirs – Lucy May, WCPO Cincinnati
‘It gives them a chance to be a kid’
CINCINNATI — Some toys are worth much more than the sum of their stitches and stuffing.
Just ask Jamie Maier and her best friends, the husband and wife team of Andy and Macy Meyer. The three University of Cincinnati undergrads are the creative force behind Sidekicks — an idea aimed at giving comfort and stability to kids experiencing homelessness in the form of custom-made toys and storybooks.
“It’s a brilliant, brilliant idea,” said James Canfield, an assistant professor at UC’s School of Social Work and an expert on child homelessness. “This gives those homeless kids a chance to have something of their own, something that’s not handed down, something that’s made for them. It gives them a semblance of control. And it gives them a chance to be a kid.”
The three friends began testing Sidekicks this summer with UpSpring, the nonprofit organization that works to meet the educational needs of children experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. They worked with kids at UpSpring’s Summer 360 camp.
Maier and Macy Meyer had separate conversations with four different children, asking each child to draw a “new best friend” using crayons or colored pencils. After each drawing was finished, they asked the child questions about it to make sure they understood the details. They allowed each child to see and touch fabric swatches and then pick which fabric would be used for each element of the toy. Then they created custom, one-of-a-kind toys in a studio at their Walnut Hills apartment.
Tags: Archive, homelessness