Indy kids create ‘SWAG’ to collect isolation gowns for healthcare providers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – During this crisis, it’s critical healthcare workers have the protective equipment they need. With a little SWAG, a group of Indianapolis kids are working to protect nurses and doctors on the front lines.

“Every donation counts,” said Caitlyn Hempstead, a 14-year-old student at the International School of Indiana.

They are working to keep healthcare heroes safe by providing free, downloadable isolation gown patterns and instructions to make at home. That’s the mission behind the non-profit SWAG or Safer With A Gown.

“There’s still a rising need for medical gowns, which people in the clinics or hospitals use everyday, and they’re running out,” explained Norah Hempstead, a 16-year-old student at the International School of Indiana.

You may be surprised to learn that the minds behind the idea are 16 years old and younger.

“My parents are actually in the medical field, and we were talking about the personal protective equipment shortages that were happening in their clinics, and so I contacted some of my friends and family members and got together to talk about ways to help,” added Toby Schamberger.

Norah is in charge of the graphic design and Caitlyn overlooks website design. Toby is leading social media, while Amelia Schamberger, Zachary Willis and Olivia Willis are part of the marketing concepts team.

Norah, Toby, Caitlyn and Amelia all are students the International School of Indiana, while Zachary and Olivia live in California.

“We did Zoom calls and stuff like that,” explained Zachary, an 11-year-old.

“Anyone can be a SWAGer,” Caitlyn Hempstead added, “The first step was to turn their idea into a reality and create the non for profit.

“So, we had our parents help us with that,” explained 9-year-old, Olivia.

With the help of the Butler University theater department, the group of six created the gown patterns and instructions to be sewn at home and then donated to clinics or hospitals around the country.

The gowns can be made from any clean materials at home, like unused fabric or sheets.

“The most challenging part is that this something none of us have ever experienced before, so we’re going step-by-step, trying to learn how to do this,” said Caitlyn.

The SWAG team launched in March and already has reached people in all 50 states.

“Over 1,500 gowns have been downloaded,” said Schamberger.

Each member does their part on social media to reach further as the need for PPE grows.

“Most of us know how to set up an account,” Zachary explained. “So, we did that to just get the word out there.”

Balancing at-home learning while protecting healthcare workers, it’s safe to say these SWAGers are on track to make a big impact.

Click here to visit the Safe With A Gown website to download your pattern and instructions.

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