Mother-Daughter Teams Co-Design Culturally Appropriate Activewear

Mother-Daughter pairs examine potential design options for active wear.

Two years ago Professor Elizabeth Bye (Apparel Design) received an Extension Block Grant to research the physical activity of mother-daughter pairs in East African communities. “The project grew out of research I did with the Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sports a few years ago. We had created culturally appropriate activewear for girls in the Twin Cities’ East African community and we received a lot of feedback from the mothers whose daughters participated in the project that they wanted similar athletic wear for themselves.”

Alongside UMN School of Kinesiology Lecturer Chelsey Thul and graduate student Muna Mohammad, Cedar Riverside Community School Liaison Jennifer Weber, and apparel studies graduate student Robin Carufel, Bye took this feedback and began to conduct research on how to increase physical activity for both mothers and daughters.

“Our program was designed for urban mother-daughter pairings to take part in an intergenerational physical activity program. The goal of the program was to increase physical activity through education, practice, and the co-design of culturally sensitive activewear, which is imperative for upholding cultural and religious values of privacy and modesty,” explained Bye.

Program participants learned about nutrition and different physical and creative design activities that they could do together. The mother-daughter pairs also worked to design their own activewear and learned basic sewing techniques. “The pairings created inspiration boards and developed design criteria and ideations. Then our undergraduate students took the data and sketched out about 20 different ideas for both the mothers and daughters. The pairings then discussed the designs, critiqued them, and decided on their favorite.”

On Saturday, December 2, the program researchers and participants will celebrate the culmination of their hard work with a showcase where they will present a summary of the project and their finished activewear. Participants will also receive a certificate, a new pair of sneakers, and a three-month membership to the YWCA.

“I hope this project has helped our participants develop healthy lifestyles and an appreciation for design,” concluded Bye.

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