A T-shirt designed by students in the Fashion Marketing Program at the Portland Arts & Technology High School (PATHS) makes much more than a fashion statement. The T-shirt was created to help immigrant students and others feel welcome.
The design on the T-shirt is based on an iconic inspirational image from a World War II poster that showed a woman factory worker rolling up her sleeves and saying, “We Can Do It!”
Jane Krasnow, PATHS Fashion Marketing instructor, explained why and how students decided to transform the image. “After the election and then the travel ban, our class noticed that students were feeling fear and were nervous to even go to school,” Krasnow said. “Seeing this, we decided to do something rather that stay stuck in feeling afraid and insecure.”
She continued, “So we got some help and put a hijab in place of Rosie the Riveter's bandana and changed the caption from ‘We Can Do It!’ to ‘We Belong Here!’”
Once the image was designed, Krasnow said, “the class decided to apply for a Painting for A Purpose grant to put this image on T-shirts, hoping that this image and message would impact students who felt marginalized.”
Painting for a Purpose is a local nonprofit organization that brings together artists, parents, students and educators to create and sell original art and objects for the home, many refurbished out of old furniture. All proceeds raised by Painting for a Purpose are invested in community initiatives that Portland Public Schools’ students propose and complete.
Two Fashion Marketing students, Zahra Abukar, a senior at Portland High School, and Taylor Rickett, who attends Windham High School, helped spearhead the effort to market the shirts. The class ended up receiving a $490 Painting for a Purpose grant.
“Now we are at the point that we are going to market the T-shirts and give the proceeds to the Make It Happen! program,” Krasnow said.
Make It Happen!, run by the Portland Public Schools’ Multilingual & Multicultural Center, is a college-readiness and academic success program for language minority students in grades 8 through 12. Zahra was helped by the program and wants to give back to it.
Zahra and Taylor used the T-shirt project as their entry at the Maine State DECA Conference, held in early March. DECA is a nonprofit organization that prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers and education in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Zahra and Taylor won 1st place in the Community Service Project category.
Other PATHS Fashion Marketing students also won awards at DECA. Several students are headed to the DECA National Conference on April 25 in California and have started a GoFundMe campaign to help them get there. Their GoFundMe page is https://www.gofundme.com/send-us-to-to-nationals
Details regarding online purchasing of the “We Belong Here!” T-shirts are being finalized. In the meantime, you can purchase T-shirts by calling or emailing PATHS Fashion Marketing instructor Jane Krasnow at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (207) 874-8165, x334.