Keep Calm and Carry Yarn
Designing Information Programs for Children & Youth- LIBM 6371
St. Edward's Catholic School, Little Rock
My program implementation project took place at St. Edward's Catholic School in downtown Little Rock. As a Catholic school, St. Edward's is unique, due to it's diverse multicultural (largely Hispanic) population and services for special education children.
Admittedly, I was at a loss as to the type of program to present since I was not acquainted with this group of students. I started by visiting the school principal and library media specialist. Mr. Pohlmeier, the principal suggested the seventh grade class, with an emphasis on the Hispanic girls. When asked of his goals for the class, he suggested something that allowed learning a new skill, while giving back to the community.
I then took inspiration from my sixteen-year-old daughter. In July, two years ago, she taught herself to knit, using a round loom, as a way to pass the time on a long car trip. She enjoyed her project so much she continued knitting hats-- with about 35 knitted by December. A few days before Christmas, she took all of her knitted hats to the "Christmas Caravan", an event in downtown Little Rock in which area service groups and individuals donate food, clothing, and toys to the area's homeless. She donated her hats to men, women, children, and babies of the community. It was humbling for our entire family.
I asked an area youth director , who has been heavily involved in the Christmas Caravan project to come to St. Edward's to speak with the students on the project. She planned to bring a slideshow. Unfortunately, on the morning of the program, she had a family emergency, forcing her to cancel. This was my opportunity to "monitor and adjust"! I did my best to explain the Christmas Caravan to the students. We also brainstormed other giving opportunities for the hat project... Arkansas Children's Hospital, St. Jude's in Memphis, and the school's annual "Mitten Tree".
That is when our fun began. I showed the students the materials, large and small looms to create various sizes of hats, different textures and thicknesses of yarn, etc. The students were overwhelmingly enthusiastic. Many were very successful with their knitting. In all, from the class of twenty-one students, eighteen actively participated-- including to my surprise, all but one boy!
I received a donation of a Joanne's Fabric gift card, plus some high-value coupons from a local sewing/ alteration store. I used this to purchase a set of looms of various sizes for the seventh grade class to use. The school's Parent Teacher Organization also donated supplies for the project, including yarn and extra hooks to use with the looms.
I returned to the school a few days later to help the kids finish their projects. Some were still working enthusiastically on the hats every opportunity they had. Many had made great progress. Plans are to continue the hat project and expand to the sixth and eighth grades.
Overall, the program was a huge success. I unexpectedly had a few emotional moments as I watched the students support each other and listened to their plans to make hats for the less fortunate... along with a few who planned Christmas gifts for their families.
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