Current project: Operation Sock Monkey Handbook

Life Skills and Entrepreneurship Curriculum Development for youth groups, schools and community organizations



There is nothing quite as glorious as making a sock monkey!  No, on second thought, what may be more glorious is the incredible global impact of this humble creature!

 Operation Sock Monkey, OSM, (founded by Lindsey Hodgson) is a volunteer-run initiative in support of humanitarian organizations that provide laughter, hope and healing to communities around the world affected by disease, disaster and social/political turmoil.  I have been an operative of OSM since 2009.  Countless students and colleagues have since joined the operation.  I am now creating a life- and business skills handbook for the global craftivism initiative.


Why a handbook?

The OSM handbook will allow us to leave a lasting and empowering legacy of art-, life- and business-skills when we complete our field work.

The target consumer of the handbook includes:

• Youth programs (youth-at-risk, inner city, rural, secondary schools, alternative schools)

• Community groups

• Therapeutic and Special Needs support programming

• Micro-industry development

• Intergenerational programs


The goal is to provide tools locally and globally around life- and business skills using sock monkey making as the training vehicle! Here is my student Hannah (who has since blossomed into an extraordinary young woman, fantastic mother, and who is on a great career path) in 2011 with her handmade ETSY products:

Who am I?

I am an artist, author, therapeutic art facilitator and craftivist.  My personal mission is to awaken creative expression and teach life skills and entrepreneurship through local and global art initiatives.   

You can read more about me at

Partnering with OSM allows me to fulfill my personal mission through the vehicle of craft- specifically the sock monkey.  I have been delivering sock monkey therapy and workshops for years and it is always magical to see the smiles on participants as they awaken to the healing power of the sock monkey.


Photo by Woza Moya Project

There are so many stories: 

H. using a sock monkey to comfort her as she testified in court against an abusive boyfriend.  T. making a sock monkey for his sick friend to take to treatment.  M., struggling with mental health issues, making sock monkeys with worn socks and dental floss and couch stuffing, bringing them to me to send to Africa.  C. using sock monkey making in her work with people living with Alzheimer’s.  A. making a sock monkey for her hero, after his mom passed away.  L. using sock monkeys to process trauma to face her abuser and to create dialogue and raise esteem in her peers.  H. interpreting her favorite artist’s work through sock monkeys then connecting with the artist through her micro-industry online sales and social media.  The entire school (Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary, North Vancouver) infused with sock monkey fever as we made 200 for Operation Sock Monkey.  Lindsey Hodgson and her Operation Sock Monkey team working GLOBALLY,  delivering 1000′s of sock monkeys to children in South Africa, Nepal, India, Haiti, Northern Canada and more.  Passion Foundation bringing sock monkeys as comfort for young victims at a rape relief crisis center in Cape Town.  Families using sock monkeys to help comfort their terminally ill children and themselves.  The use of sock monkeys in attachment therapy with Clowns Without Borders.  Women in Woza Moya making an income through sock monkey making.  Little Maxx annually bringing smiles to children in a hospital in Philadelphia as he gathers sock monkey donations.  And the countless of people simply sewing a monkey to help them through emotional crises…

Photo courtesy of Operation Sock Monkey

Maxx.  Photo courtesy of Operation Sock Monkey

Empowering students to take the sock monkey experience further by making them on their own and selling them for a small income fills my heart with joy.  I want to increase my outreach by creating a handbook that is enriching, user-friendly and reproducible by participants and by local and global communities.


I am now in PHASE 1 of the project- pre-production.  I will be testing my curriculum when, in PHASE 2, I implement local (Vancouver) pilot projects and when, in PHASE 3, I write the book.  In Phase 4, I bring the work to New York City and San Francisco and eventually to South Africa (Kwa-Zulu Natal and Cape Town) in September 2015 (PHASE 5).

Heal monkey

The Impact

  • OSM is already in the field around the world.  Now it’s time to create a lasting and empowering educational component!
  • I have been using sock monkeys as part of my therapeutic art classes for at-risk youth and in my general art classes for all ages.  The process is quite miraculous.  The simple process of making a loveable creature allows for a moment of safety and caring.  The socialization and resulting dialogue is part of the magic.  Each stitch in a sock monkey contains thoughts, laughter, tears, dreams, horror, joy, secrets, trust etc.  The natural instinct for many is to want to make more and to share them.
  • There is no doubt that sock monkeys are conducive to teaching life skills.

For more on the life skills, go to: LINK


Photo by Darcy Glip

Photo by Darcy Glip


• Sections

• Chapters

• Diagrams

• Photographs

• Resources

IMPORTANCE OF TEACHING LIFE SKILLS  [Source: Healing the Inner City Child]

“Life skills” are defined as psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Life skills generally include 3 broad categories of skills:

• cognitive skills for analyzing and using information

• personal skills for developing personal agency and managing oneself, and

• inter-personal skills for communicating and interacting effectively with others.

During a successfully implemented creative arts program, participants generally:

  1. Engage in the program from beginning to end.
  2. Respond without physical or verbal aggression.
  3. Communicate effectively with instructors and peers.
  4. Cooperate with others in the group.
  5. Demonstrate ability to accept redirection.
  6. Demonstrate ability to share and take turns.
  7. Demonstrate appropriate use of equipment.
  8. Respect personal boundaries of peers and adults.
  9. Demonstrate creative solutions for problem solving.
  10. Demonstrate initiative and leadership skills.


  1. Learning and Problem Solving Skills, including: listening to understand and learn; reading, comprehending and using written materials; thinking critically and acting logically to evaluate situations, solve problems and make decisions; learning to access and apply specialized knowledge from various fields; and continuing to learn for life.
  2. Social Skills, such as: anger management; resolving conflict; addressing attachment, connection, peer awareness; working well with others; and developing a positive self-image.
  3. Personal Management Skills, including: creating a budget; money management; ; managing stress; and managing time.
  4. Development of Positive Attitudes and Behaviors, including: self-esteem and confidence; honesty, integrity and personal ethics; a positive attitude toward learning, growth and personal health; and initiative, energy, and persistence to get the job done.
  5. Personal Responsibility, including: the ability to set goals and priorities in work and personal life; the ability to plan and achieve goals; accountability for actions taken; adaptability; a positive attitude toward change; and the ability to identify and suggest new ideas to get the job done–creatively.
  6. Teamwork Skills, including: understanding and contributing to an organization’s goals; understanding and working within the culture of the group; planning and making decisions with others and supporting the outcomes; respecting the thoughts and opinions of others in a group; exercising “give and take” to achieve group results; leading where appropriate; and mobilizing the group for high performance.
  7. Project Management, including: project planning; group management; client relationship building; social media management; product photography; advertising; documentation; supply management; project execution; project delivery and project evaluation.
Teaching my nephew Henrik how to sew.  Photo by Darcy Glip.

Teaching my nephew Henrik how to sew. Photo by Darcy Glip.

The handbook is dedicated to all the sock monkey makers of the world!




Loretta Cella, Passion Foundation, with sock monkeys headed to South Africa as part of Loretta's work at Patch Centre.

Loretta Cella, Passion Foundation, with sock monkeys before heading to South Africa as part of Loretta’s work at Patch Centre.

“These girls loved their sock monkeys!!! The squeals and excited was amazing!” – Loretta Cella

“The young women loving their sock monkeys!! ” – Loretta Cella

“Sock monkey love #southafrica ” – Loretta Cella




You can also DONATE


Or via email transfer from your online banking to


Screen shot 2014-04-30 at 6.39.30 AM


• Jen Navarro

• Lindsey Hodgson

• Beth Pastore

• Leila Al Dughaither

• Merv Glip

• Norm Berglund

• Anne Banner

• Pamela Post

• Allison Patterson

• Julie Blackburn

• Krysten Ouwehand

• Erte Adamas Balenciaga (Azfir)

• Karen White

• Sandra Jensen

• Robyn Whyte

• Robert Charles LeMoal

• Laura Mack

• Anna Coffin

• Brandy Jones

• Evelyn Wong

• Jill Flumerfelt Diebel

• Jennifer MacDonald

• Parmida Afsahi

• Lindsay Ross

• Doug and Diane Clement

• Martha DeMers

• Cher Hanusiak


3 thoughts on “Current project: Operation Sock Monkey Handbook

  1. Pingback: Stay tuned for Operation Sock Monkey Handbook development fundraising! | Katarina Thorsen Art Blog

  2. Pingback: I am partnering with @woollybananas to create an Operation Sock Monkey handbook! | POSTSTREET: self-expression through the sock

  3. Pingback: Awaken creative expression through local and global art initiatives. | YOUTH ARTISANS

  4. Pingback: OSM HANDBOOK LIFE SKILLS | Katarina Thorsen Art Blog

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