Kehiana London aged out of the foster care system at 21, and she was on her own in New York City. In her chaotic world, she found a calm sense of community through Foster Pride, a non-profit organisation helping youth in foster care develop talents and build self-esteem through the arts for 25 years. London's art of choice? Crochet — a craft she learned, honed, and has turned into a business. "It makes me feel empowered," London says. "I love anything art."
Now, in addition to working full-time at Equinox, London gives back as an assistant teacher at Foster Pride while working towards a career in interior design.
On the surface, crochet may seem like a craft of bygone eras, but the NYC nonprofit's classes offer more than a lesson in needle and thread. The idea is that the craft is both marketable — Foster Pride designs will be available at American Eagle later this year, so students can make a profit off their designs — and therapeutic.
"When you crochet, your hands are busy and you use them in a different way," Amy Stack, former group home director and Foster Pride instructor told Refinery29. "The process of creation is cathartic and should be done on a daily basis."
London's story, featured in our video series Connecting Thread with the nonprofit Unleashed, is one of many. "[Foster Pride is a] wonderful opportunity for these young girls to create something for themselves, make some money for themselves, feel good about themselves in an environment and time in their lives when they really don't have a lot of positive aspects," Kara Ross, Unleashed's founder, says.
Learn more about how Foster Pride makes a difference in the video above.