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Flying solo: A feast for parents that need a team.

Connect families with young children by providing an accepting and fun community centered around dinner and a family-friendly dance party.

Photo of Lorraine Sawicki
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Updates: How has your idea changed or evolved throughout the Prize? What updates have you made to this submission? (1500 characters)

The initial idea was for single parents or parent "flying solo", but after conversation and thought realized that a more inclusive model would open up the community to everyone interested.

Name or Organization

Lorraine Sawicki


Seattle, Washington

What is your stage of development?

  • New Innovator, with less than one year of experience in ECD


  • Individual

What is the stage of your proposal?

  • Research & Early Testing: I am exploring my idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Describe how your solution could be a game-changer for your selected Opportunity Area (600 characters)

The care and attention that very small children need from their caregiver(s) can be both mentally and physically exhausting. Kids learn through play, and adults find relief and positive energy from the shared experience of family dinner, song and dance. Especially for those parents that lack a strong local family network, it would be a game-changer for there to be a reliable, fun, family-friendly communication network as well as a physical space to connect locally with other parents and supporters.

Select an Innovation Target

  • Network: Connecting people with each other to enhance the reach or effectiveness of new or existing resources.

Tell us more about your innovation (1500 characters)

Flying Solo aims to apply the principles of community, nutrition and exercise to build a service to address the lack of support, isolation and confusion that often accompany parents that need a social network to feel supported and strong. Within the “Insights and Recommendations” guide for supporting parents, there appeared to be encouragement to find the right technologies to help parents. This is due to the fact that technology—particularly those that use the open internet and disseminates information via a mobile device—opens up a service or product to a wider audience. There is a particular process to the intent of this networking solution. It is as follows: 1) Welcome (Inclusion) 2) Interaction (Emotional Well-being, possibly all via technological communication) 3) Physical Participation (Exercise, Nutrition, Health) 4) Foundation Local Participation (Building Community)

What problem are you aiming to solve? (3 sentences)

There is often an isolation and loneliness to raising very small children, especially for parents that are single, divorced, an alternative caregiver or with a partner that is frequently away. We will provide a family-friendly space for people of all backgrounds and economic striations to gather and connect. A platform-independent and internet driven content network would provide customized updates on local events and possibly ways to record and check up on other parents in the network.

Explain your idea (5000 characters)

The goal is to help parents when they’re “flying solo” with the care of very young children. So how often do you have dinner by yourself? This sounds like such a simple thing, but I think it is important issue and is of great significance to some people. Having dinner by yourself is just an example, and it may be surprising to some to say that if you have a young child with you you’re not alone. But the level of communication between a young child and their caretaker can be so great that spoken communication can feel one-sided. During the earliest years caregiving for a young child can be gloriously uplifting yet physically strenuous and lonely. Therefore it’s of great importance for a mother, father, or caretaker to feel like there’s someone to genuinely communicate with - another person to complete the conversation. Supporting people that are in the midst of raising a child has a number of challenges. Time is an issue! Because many parents/caregivers work full-time and feel that the only time they get to see their child is in the evening after work; they want that time to be relaxing and meaningful. Weekend visits can be interrupted easily by concerns about nap schedules. Physical energy is a problem, mainly because there is often a lack of sleep that accompanies the breastfeeding of a baby and the needy temperament of a toddler. For some people, their needs just might be able to be satisfied with a phone call. Others have family or well-established friendships that allow for adult-to-adult dialogue. Still other people might join an organization and feel that their social needs are met. However, there are many situations where a parent/caregiver feels physically tied to their home. Children often are in bed by 8PM, therefore without very trusted and affordable childcare leaving a child to pursue adult interaction is a challenge. I would like to start with finding out what kind of support, environment and activities are desired by parents and caregivers. This might involve informal interviews with single or “solo” parents at a handful of organizations that cater to supporting this demographic. After confirming that certain services or communication is in fact needed and desired, I would set about finding out how best to communicate with the parents/caregivers. Once the communication is established, a series of in-person activities could be setup on a local level.

Who benefits? (1500 characters)

1) A parent or other caregiver of a young child that lacks family and/or established friendships to help them when they need time, care and support. Some examples: - A dad that has to watch kids for a weekend because his partner’s traveling. - A mom has to watch the kids solo for 2 weeks while her partner is on business travel. - A parent that doesn’t "fit in" with the demographic of their neighborhood but still needs community. 2) I know many parents that have to make their home and work lives function normally while a partner is away. I also have sympathy for parents that are divorced and know a number of people that had to completely re-adjust their expectations and socializing because of their life change. I would have been a beneficiary. I moved to Seattle without any network and happened to have a child within a year. Between work and childcare it took a few years before I had the network I needed and would have appreciated it much earlier.

What kind of impact will your idea have? (1500 characters)

The best-case scenario would be if small, local groups of parents and caregivers were created to support each other. Even if one friendship was created for each parent that would be a game-changer! As a result of support and friendships, young children would feel that their lives can be calmer and more stable. This could lead to setting the stage for other metrics commonly associated with a successful childhood - reading and language ability, concentration, mental happiness.

How does or how could your idea impact low-income children? (1500 characters)

Low-income children have parents and caregivers that need emotional and physical support. A happy, calm and supported parent is a bonus to a young child regardless of their parents' income. This program would target caregivers and parents that feel they need an extra set of hands, especially at the points in their life where their only other options are unavailable.

Scale: Describe how your idea could reach a significant number of end-users. (1500 characters)

This project would be of best use if started on a small scale and on a local level.

Feasibility: Where are you with understanding the feasibility of your idea? Describe what you’ve done so far and your plans. (3000 characters)

This idea is still in early stages, but I do feel that it could pair well with the missions of child-centered non-profits I've come across, such as Mary's Place ( The feasibility of the idea is mainly a function of challenges similar to those of an event planner: finding a value, coordinating the guests, and putting together a list of activities that would lead to bonding and unity.

Tell us more about you (3000 characters)

I went to a wedding once when my daughter was a year old. It was the first time I had been in an environment that wasn’t a family-friendly brewery where there were people of all ages excited to have me there with the entire family. I spent 4 years as a stay-at-home mother and then went back to work full-time for 3 years. I have seen the pros and cons of each side. But the one constant has been the desire to connect with my neighbors and community, as I am a transplant to this city from 3,000 miles away. It’s such an important time for building confidence, learning how to talk and relate to the world. People don’t remember being 1, 2, or 3 years old - but the parents remember the intensity and love of the care for the rest of their lives. The intensity of the physical care and lack of sleep take their toll and can make frustrations arise and a calm demeanor a challenge. I am a mother. I also have training and experience as a designer. I was part of a group called “PEPS” or Program for Parenthood Support in Seattle, where I met other first-time mothers with children the same age as my child. This group provided vital support during my first year as a mother, especially because during the 3-6 month baby age it was often a main motivator for socializing. However after about a year the group disbanded, due to some families moving away, increased work and family demands and what I believe to be a lack of cohesive interest in each other after the initial shock of difficulty had passed. I am an art docent for elementary-aged school children, and while the group is older than this focus group the work has given me an increased appreciation for the care, attention and experience that professional teachers and educators provide to both children and their parents.

Do you have the people and partners you need to do what you’ve described? (600 characters)

I would love to partner with a non-profit that feels that the idea is in alignment with their goals.

As you consider your next steps, what kinds of help could you use? Is there a type of expertise that would be most helpful? (1800 characters)

There is a bit of event planning that is needed here. But it is on a local level. I would love to work with a small team that can help guide the development as well as the execution. I could technically “do it all” but with a few others I think the message could be spread further and the final result would be more clear and polished.

Would you like mentoring support?

  • Yes

If so, what type of mentoring support do you think you need? (1200 characters)

I believe that the type of mentoring that I need is twofold. I need a person or team that can think with me big-picture, to see that the project stays in focus and genuinely helps parents through the initial years of their child’s development. I also need the discussion and guidance of professional educators to point me in the right direction to help prove the efficacy of this project.

Are you willing to share your email contact information submitted on OpenIDEO with Gary Community Investments?

  • Yes, share my contact information

[Optional] Biography: Upload your biography. Please include links to relevant information (portfolio, LinkedIn profile, organization website, etc).


Join the conversation:

Photo of aakash mishra

If you are really the online card game player then here you will play klondike solitaire without any download and signup it is the single player card game that you can play online without paying any amount.

Photo of Alicia Blum-Ross

I know this experience very well! Trying to 'talk' to my kids when they were so little and it felt quite isolating (and awkward). I've recently met a new organization called Project Kitchen Table in the UK, might be worth talking to them?

Photo of Raul Mendoza Azpiri

Great concept! As a parent, I have been though this process!! Finding a proper space for physical and emotional support in foreign (or even local) contexts is an enormous life asset that is rarely seen as a need for EC. Good way to start from the local approach, as you will learn a lot from the very first experiences to find proper ways to scale it (as children, our projects grow with time, love and attention). Best wishes and good luck with this adventure!

Photo of Lorraine Sawicki

Thank you for your feedback! Indeed, I think this needs to start on a local level first and see what the priorities are with the parents.