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Sew a Legacy: Olympic and Paralympic sports bag production and sustainable business plan

Great Beginnings and EMBER partner to create the Sew a Legacy program

Partnering with social enterprises

In 2009, the Great Beginnings Program partnered with EMBERS, an inner-city social enterprise, to foster the business acumen, capacity- and skills-building of inner-city women through sewing projects.

Turning the old into new

The project was a great display of sustainable use of materials that were no longer needed for their intended use.
  • 730 used Olympic roadside banners were donated to EMBERS by the Great Beginnings Program.
  • 20 inner-city women sewers transformed the old, worn banners into sports bags, which were donated to local school children.
Approximately 1,100 sports bags were created and distributed to inner-city elementary schools.

Partnering for success

Bags were filled with useful school, healthy living, and sporting supplies. Items were generously donated by:
  • BC Dairy Foundation
  • ActNowBC
  • The City of Vancouver Park Board
  • Mills Basics
  • Action Schools
  • The City ofVancouver
  • HealthCanada
  • Legacies 2010

Promoting healthy living and active lifestyles

Instead of simply handing the sports bags to local schools, the Vancouver Park Board’s Active Communities Initiative, 2010 Legacies Now’s “Sport Fit” Program and the Vancouver School Board collaborated in hosting Active Living Days in a handful of inner-city schools. Children were engaged in healthy living activities and were rewarded for their efforts with Sport Bags filled with useful school supplies and healthy living items.

Establishment of Common Thread Cooperative – a legacy project

The project led to the formation of Common Thread, a Vancouver-based non-profit cooperative that matches customers with social enterprises that make sewing products. Participating sewers receive basic skills training, access to a sewing workshop, and develop the business acumen and confidence necessary for future sewing business ventures.

Common Thread: sewing with purpose

Common Thread Cooperative: sewing with purpose

Common Thread Cooperative

We are a social enterprise: a business with a primary social purpose.

Our main social purpose is creating employment. We provide sewing training and production coaching for newcomers to Canada, people living with mental illness and others who thrive in our flexible work environment.

Our secondary purpose is environmental: We reclaim street banner material that would otherwise go to the landfill.