Through research, the designers discovered children on the autism spectrum and refugee children both process sensory triggers—suffering from sensory overload, anxiety, confusion and fear that lead to insomnia, loss of appetite, anger, and behavioural outbursts. One product that often helps children on the spectrum feel calmer and more focused is a weighted, pressure vest, as reported in studies. The team thought this approach might help ease constant exposure to toxic, environmental, and often violent stress that refugee children are subjected to.
Ômwala is not just a pressure vest—it is a protective layer, a hammock, and a sleeping bag. It provides shelter, storage and 25 feet of usable paracord. Tracking technology will also be linked with a device to help families locate their children if they are separated. This product is designed for children who (most likely) don't speak English as their first language. With that in mind, the functions of the vest are simple, intuitive, and take into consideration the psyche of a 5-year-old.
The Velcro strips can be adjusted according to how tightly the child wants to be hugged. The vest easily slips off, using the paracord sewn into the lining to be pulled out and hung up as a hammock. This allows the child to sleep off the ground. Ômwala’s simple design limits decision-making to convey the intended purpose and function easily.