Hug Vest for Refugee Kids

For Studio 1 for Industrial Design, Julia Wheatley and I were briefed to design a travel tool. We pivoted to where travel wasn't always fun and easy.

There are 65 million refugees in the world, and almost 50% of these are children. These children are having long lasting mental health problems from their forced travel experiences. Omwola is a convertible hug vest to help alleviate the toxic stress children go through when transitioning to a new location. 

For my Human Computer Interaction course, we were briefed to 'design for one' through solutions that utilize Ai enabled assistive technology.

My team focused on communication. Easing the way young people with articulation disorders can improve their expressive language. Doe is an augmented mirror with daily adaptive and visualized lessons to reach an individual's goal.


This is Amira

Amira is a 7yr old girl. The civil war caused Amira’s whole family to leave Syria to live in a Refugee Camp in Germany.

"I can't sleep in the camps at night. I have night terrors of the people chasing me."

“I worked with my speech pathologist from age 3 —11 to help my lisp.” 

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Toxic Stress

Syrian children are suffering from toxic stress caused by their constant exposure to violence. This in turn has lasting mental health problems such as sleeplessness, loss of appetite and anger management.

During a speech pathologist's evaluation, their patients often read this paragraph to understand what their difficulty is to create their individualized education plan. 

When on boarding with Doe, Ai identifies speech errors. This is how the system orients Maddie's set of goals once approved with her speech pathologist. 


“I see similarities between children on the spectrum + refugees especially when coping with sensory overload.”


“I do miss my home and country. I miss being with my parents.” 


When do you feel loved? "Mommy and Daddy are proud of me.”


“To relax, I press my fingers into my palm, pause & hold, then a deep breath.”

How do kids cope with sensory overload?

Through our interview with Anarosy + research we discovered that refugees struggle with processing different sensory triggers like excessive loud noises.

We found an opportunity to apply new ways of creating calm affordances in products for those who might also need support.

Anarosy informed us that Autistic children use pressure vests to find calm and focus during school — it feels like a reassuring hug. This closeness felt through physical pressure helps build emotional support. 

Psycho-Aesthetics Competitive Analysis —  to understand products based on the users needs and desires on one hand and the level of interactivity on the other to find opportunity zones.

Speech therapy relies heavily on building good practice habits and having a good teacher. For Maddie, she starts her lessons with her mirror in the comfort of her own home.

Some lessons are designed to include the parents participation. I wanted families to be present and active to continue their loved ones development to meet their communication goals. 


Thicker material with vest like lapels and front closure.


Hood + Cowl Neck: larger convertible hood allows for multiple purposes.


Wrap-Around Compression: self initiated pressure around.


Materials to offer proper durability

Learning through Play

+ Jersey internal layer
+ Paracord
+ Gore-Tex outer layer
+ Industrial Velcro

For everyday lessons, we needed to keep the lessons quick and the interest level high. Aiming to be fun, interesting, and motivating. We adopted our lessons from current speech pathologist techniques by visualizing articulatory movements.



A mission to give children the tools to adapt and to provide safety then to connect them back with loved ones.

How might we create an engaging, adaptive at home tool for children with articulation disorders that's easier to understand, while also giving consistent progress communication to speech therapists.

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"A human crisis"

Being displaced from one’s home is not a choice, and as world-renowned artist and activist Ai Weiwei has said, this is a “human crisis” not a “refugee crisis.” As global citizens, we are responsible for each other.


"Humans will adapt and seek opportunities." My professor, Ben Bush, mentioned this and it is here where I learned to not only consider the users behaviors but to also consider other behaviors and triggers that would be similar. 

Julia Prototype, Research, Sketches, Fabrication
Me Research, Sketches, Graphic Design, Video Editing

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