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Camp Runway Lets D.C. Teens Show Off Their Designs

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Camp Runway allows D.C. teens to learn sewing and fashion design.
Markette Smith
Camp Runway allows D.C. teens to learn sewing and fashion design.

More than 14,000 young people participated in the District's Summer Youth jobs programs this year, and some D.C. teens got hands-on training for careers in fashion at "Camp Runway."

Think of it as a career camp of sorts, where teenagers are paid to be stylish. Monday through Thursday, lesson plans focused on apparel construction. Friday's were dedicated to work-readiness training.

The kids spent six weeks creating their designs. As the grand finale runway event for the program gets underway, parents in the audience, including Rosetta Williams, are beaming with pride.

"This is my animal-loving, basketball-playing daughter who wound up in a fashion design camp, so it was totally out of her character, but she came in and she just really surprised me," Williams said.

Williams' 15-year-old daughter Jocelyn created a dress, complete with an animal print collar, a belt and a zipper.

"And when we laid out the pattern, the pieces and the fabric we all looked at it and we were like, this is going to be a hard dress because it was like 85 pieces to this one dress," Williams said.

But it turned out, Jocelyn had an aptitude for sewing. 

"I came one day to pick her up, and Ms. Ranklin said that she has a sewing knowledge in this little brain of hers, and it was so exciting, because I myself had been sewing since I was a very young child," said Rosetta Williams.

The kids were all paid $5.25 an hour for their work this summer, but Jocelyn got so much more out of it than money, she said.

“I got the opportunity to sew for the summer," she said. "I made some new friends, so it was a pretty good experience."

"Camp Runway" is an initiative of the Greater Washington Fashion Chamber of Commerce and the District's Department of Employment Services.

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