The Doodle Dolls team researched specific areas, namely child poverty, prisoner reintegration into society, and sustainability/sustainable materials. Following is a compilation of the top facts for each category.

PRISONER REINTEGRATION

1. ‘Out of Gate’, is an external program offered to offenders serving sentences of two years or less, or who have been on remand for more than 60 days. From this program, 67% of prisoners who complete this program, remain out of prison for six months and 53% for 12 months, which is a small-scale reduction against a sample of comparable offenders who did not engage in the service.

2. The period of transition from custody to community can be very stressful. The period of incarceration may itself have had several “collateral effects”. They may have lost their livelihood, personal belongings, ability to maintain housing for themselves and family, and lost important relationships and social networks. This can result to homelessness/lack of motivation to change.

3. Since 1990, an average of 590,400 inmates have been released annually from state and federal prisons. The Department of Justice’s (DOJ’s) Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has estimated that nearly three quarters of all released prisoners will be rearrested within five years of their release and about 6 in 10 will be re-convicted.

4. There are three types of prison integration programs:

Institutional programs – designed to prepare offenders to reenter society can include education, mental health care, substance abuse treatment, job training, counselling, and mentoring.
Surveillance-based programs – centered on supervision of offenders in the community following release from confinement. On their own, with advice. (Parole)
Assistance based programs – Offenders afflicted by mental illness encounter particular problems upon release into the community.

5. The conventional wisdom is that post-release employment is one of the most important elements for an ex-offender to successfully transition back into the community. Released prisoners frequently identify employment as one of the most important factors in their efforts to stay crimefree after incarceration. Five studies examined the effects of programs that provided job training and/or post-release employment services for prisoners. Of these five studies, only two found that the program helped reduce recidivism, though neither program had a significant effect on post-release employment.

SUSTAINABILITY

1. Using a special machine called a Protocycler, recyclable plastics (such as plastic bottles) can be ground up and extruded into spools of filament to be used in 3D printing machines. 3D print offcuts and unwanted 3D prints can also be used, creating a “closed loop” system of production.
2. Tyres are a major problem in New Zealand currently because there is no solid recycling scheme in place to deal with them. Mountains of them are collecting in landfills and hidden areas of the countryside, posing a fire hazard and leaching harmful chemicals into the soil. Meanwhile, overseas, tyres are actually being recycled to make rubber mats.
3. Recycling 1kg of cotton saves 20,000 litres of water – as cotton is a very water-intensive crop. It also accounts for about a quarter of the pesticides used in the US, which directly impacts bee populations – so recycling cotton is particularly helpful in reducing environmental impacts.
4. The creation of synthetic fibres – such as polyester – produce harmful emissions including volatile organic compounds, particulate matter, and acid gases such as hydrogen chloride, all of which can cause or aggravate respiratory disease, which serves as another reason we should be recycling synthetic fibres.
5. Ministry for the Environment figures show 100 million kilos of textile waste is thrown into the country’s (New Zealand’s) rubbish dumps yearly. That’s the equivalent of every person in New Zealand chucking about 145 medium-sized men’s T-shirts a year.

CHILD POVERTY

1. Child poverty “can lead to serious and prolonged mental illness in children” (Feek, 2017), that can eventuate into a problematic adulthood that has a negative effect on both the individual and society as a whole (Peters & Besley, 2014).
2. Poverty rates are consistently higher for those aged 0-11 years old, compared to children 12-17 (Feek, 2017). This is Doodle Dolls target market.
3. Child poverty rates are increasing at a rapid rate. As Roy (2016) states, “one-third of the country’s children, or 300,000, now live below the poverty line – 45,000 more than a year ago”.
4. Stuff (2016) estimates that “…90,000 kids are living in severe poverty” and that “New Zealand has a goal to halve poverty by 2030″
5. Peters & Besley (2014) state that “New Zealand has substantial rates of child poverty and material deprivation. These rates significantly exceed those of many other developed countries and, at least on some measures, are much worse than three decades ago. The evidence suggests that child poverty, especially when experienced in early childhood and/or when persistent and severe, can be very damaging —both to the children directly affected and society as a whole. Amongst other things, child poverty contributes to the large educational achievement gaps between children from lower and higher SES backgrounds. For such reasons, there is a powerful case for reducing child poverty.”
6. Sadly, “NZ has the worst teen suicide rate of the developed world, with 16 suicides per 100,000 in 2016″ (Fyres, 2017)
7. Feek (2017) suggests that “Prevention is the key; which can be aided by policies that support better incomes…“. Hopefully Doodle Dolls will be the beginning of a solution to end New Zealand’s dismal child poverty rates.

Through this research, we can see that there is definitely an opportunity to do more to alleviate child poverty in New Zealand. On the other hand, our goal to help re-integrate prisoners may be overly ambitious, at least for the duration of our studio project.

There are many options in terms of sourcing sustainable materials. However, after a discussion with Donna Cleveland, many of the recycled material techniques are not available to us and would be too expensive to implement.

We are doing a special textile lab session next week to explore options in recycled materials and processes that we could use in building our prototype.

We also have set up a meeting with Sarah Trotman, director of business relations at AUT, and Marjo Lips-Wiersma, Professor of Ethics and Sustainability Leadership, next week to discuss working with students at the business faculty to help build a feasible business and marketing plan, and perhaps do a sustainability study. We hope to try make this vision into a reality, while making sure we keep the raw innovative thinking at the forefront.

Lastly, we have entered the xChallenge.Here is our submission:

What is your idea What is the problem you are trying to solve? Who is your customer? What is your solution to solve this problem for your customer? 

We aim to create toys for children based on designs submitted by underprivileged children. There are three main areas of Doodle Dolls:

1. Toy designs (children’s drawings) are submitted by underprivileged children to Doodle Dolls and successful submissions are selected by Doodle Dolls staff.

2. Dolls are produced using recycled materials by Doodle Dolls’ staff and will be made by ex-convicts that are reintegrating into society, trained through  prison programs during incarceration.

3. A percentage of all proceeds while the toys are up for sale are placed in a trust fund for the child that designed that toy.

Therefore our innovations are:

1. Crowd sourced toy designs from children in need

2. Direct employment of ex-convicts re-entering society

3. High reliance on recycled materials for toy production

The key benefits of our business model are helping address the following problems:

– In NZ there are more children under 11 years old living in poverty than aged between 12-17, and currently 50% of NZ’s homeless are under 25 years old.

– Prisoners who find sustainable work on release are far less likely to reoffend; and

– Over 4% of landfill volume are textiles

– Consumers are seeking environmental and sustainable products and services, that show a strong social and environmental consciousness. Given the choice, the majority of baby boomers will pay a premium for products and services from companies with good social, environmental and sustainable consciousness. In the case of generation Z, 72% will pay a premium. Globally across all respondents 66% of the population will pay a premium.

– Currently, there are no companies that tackle our 3 major social issues in New Zealand: child poverty, prisoner reintegration and sustainability. Doodle Dolls will provide social sustainability that consumers can be a part of. Consumers are increasingly wanting to buy into products that make them feel as if they are contributing to the greater good of society and the environment. Doodle Dolls provides this opportunity through an unique eco-system of giving back and paying it forward.

Tell us about your unique advantage: What makes your idea unique ? Why are you/your team the best person(s) to start this idea ? 

There are a number of societal issues that Doodle Dolls addresses including:

– Underprivileged children have few avenues to change their social or economic outlook. For the most part, those born into poverty will remain in poverty. In NZ there are more children under 11 years old living in poverty than aged between 12-17, and currently 50% of NZ’s homeless are under 25 years old. Child poverty rates continue to increase with little evidence of possible change. Child poverty also has a direct correlation to incidence of adult mental health issues and criminal offending.

– Prisoners re-entering society have few options for employment. Ex-convict employment has been proven to reduce recidivism by at least 20% in NZ. 55% of NZ prisoners have never held a job and therefore lack the skills to seek employment upon release. Without work release or other recidivism reduction programs, over 40% of ex-convicts will reoffend within 12 months of release.

From a consumer perspective there are few opportunities to purchase ethical, environmental and sustainable toys. And fewer opportunities to directly contribute to reducing child poverty and reducing ex-convict recidivism. We believe that Doodle Dolls represents a new type of business model where a number of key stakeholders can benefit that are not normally part of a traditional business model. We would like to believe that a successful Doodle Dolls will impact the way other businesses think about product creation, human resources, and profitability.

We are the best team to start this idea as we have the resources and connections through AUT, and bring a diverse set of skills and unique way of thinking that is conducive to creating innovative solutions.

Any else you would like to tell us?

This concept is early in the research and development stage. Doodle Dolls is currently being developed as part of our Creative Technology’s studio project, with a prototype being developed for final assessment. We will be working with the Business faculty to develop our business and marketing plan.

It is unfortunate that we did not have a website or images of a prototype to add as yet, but fingers crossed.

Our next milestone is to find children to submit drawings so our creepy doll making team (Kat and Sophie) can get a start. Kylie and Sophie is head of recruitment, and will be going to their old schools to talk to the teachers to find participants.

REFERENCES

Feek, B. (2017). Combating child poverty will help beat child mental health issues. Retrieved from http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11858188

Fyers, A. (2017). Unicef report: New Zealand 34th out of 41 developed countries for child wellbeing. Retrieved from https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/93583589/Unicef-report-New-Zealand-34th-out-of-41-developed-countries-for-child-wellbeing

Peters, M. A., & Besley, T. A. (2014). Children in crisis: child poverty and abuse in New Zealand. Educational Philosophy and Theory46(9), 945-961. doi:10.1080/00131857.2014.935280

Roy, E. A. (2016). New Zealand’s most shameful secret: ‘we have normalised child poverty’. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/aug/16/new-zealands-most-shameful-secret-we-have-normalised-child-poverty

Stuff. (2016). ‘Significant, enduring’ child poverty in New Zealand according to child poverty monitor. Retrieved from http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/87405746/significant-enduring-child-poverty-in-new-zealand-according-to-child-poverty-monitor