Creativity Shell—a nonprofit youth trade school in Kingwood—was created to help children learn skills to navigate life through activities such as sewing and cooking, said Shelancia Daniel, the school’s founder and executive director.

“If you talk to somebody who sews, they're usually pretty meticulous, they can solve problems, because ... as you're going through on the machine, you're having to troubleshoot and do all these different things,” Daniel said.

The backstory

Daniel said she learned to sew at a young age and decided to combine her passion for the craft with her background in educational psychology when she launched Creativity Shell about eight years ago. The organization moved to its current location in 2022.

Creativity Shell offers classes to children ages 5-17 with instructors teaching sewing and textile arts, ceramics, cooking and baking. The courses are discounted compared to typical programs to allow more children access to the curriculum, Daniel said.

The organization also hosts community events, such as the school’s annual fashion show, adult classes in various art skills, summer programs for kids ages 3-5 and senior programs at community senior centers.

The impact

Daniel and her team of employees work with many children who have mental health issues or mental disabilities. Creativity Shell also works with many children who are victims of human trafficking, Daniel said.

Since her team works with vulnerable populations, Daniel said they are diligent about making sure the students feel comfortable and boundaries remain intact. For example, at Creativity Shell events where the students sell items they make, they get to keep the profits, Daniel said.

“When I first started [hosting events] everybody was like, 'Oh, that's a good idea. Have the kids make money and give it back to the organization,'” Daniel said. “I said 'No,’ because there's no difference between that and human trafficking. You're asking kids to work, you have to let them keep the money.”

Students love attending Creativity Shell classes, because the organization is a safe space for many, Daniel said. One of her proudest accomplishments since starting Creativity Shell is seeing former students return to work for the organization as employees.

“About 60% of our staff were our former students, and they came back, and they were ready to work,” Daniel said.