By Martha Darwin
[Editor's Note: Blessings in Stitches and UMW CSI hosted an event called Kids' Night on Tuesday, June 24. The event was an opportunity for children to learn how to knit special purple caps for infants as part of an awareness campaign about Shaken Baby Syndrome. The night was a great success, so we asked Martha Darwin (one of the organizers of the event) to give us some background on the worthwhile efforts put forth that night (as well as on on ongoing basis).]
For weeks Arborlawn’s Blessings in Stitches group planned a “Kids' Night” event, with three goals in mind: 1) Teaching a needle art to a child, so that they might have that in their repertoire for life; 2) Having the opportunity to connect in a meaningful way with a different generation in the congregation; and 3) Giving children the chance to be a part of an ongoing mission project within the church.
With so much anticipated, members ordered materials, researched instructional videos, advertised, and held meetings to provide all instructor participants with practice, practice, practice. The selected skill was making a loom-knitted baby hat – a purple hat for the local hospital, Harris Southwest - as part of a national awareness campaign intended for the prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Every November, as part of the national Shaken Baby Syndrome awareness campaign, Harris Southwest gives a handmade purple hat to every newborn baby, as well as a DVD about the hazardous effects of shaking a baby to the newborn’s parents. The hope is to educate parents about the need to walk away for a minute or two if they become exasperated with what has traditionally been referred to as “colic”. Impatient parents who do not know better have been known to try to stop the crying by shaking the baby, not knowing that the baby can be permanently brain damaged by such shaking.
After all of our planning and preparation, the much anticipated evening of Kids' Night arrived, and suddenly there were flash floods (as well as power outages) in parts of Fort Worth very near the church. The City of Fort Worth sent out tweets and other messages that told people to “Stay home” and to “Turn around, don’t drown.” Numerous instructors had to consider staying home as they found leaks, feared encountering water along their driving routes, or experienced power outages.
The first three ladies who arrived at the church turned on lights and started arranging tables and supplies, all the while speculating that they might end up having a nice little visit amongst themselves and then end up going home early.
Before they could even finish setting up, people started coming in – 15 minutes before the scheduled starting time! Within 20 minutes, there were 11 children sitting at tables, learning this new craft. Four of their mothers had been told they were welcome to observe, but each one ended up asking if she could also have a loom to learn how to do make the caps. Mother and child, side-by-side, learned the techniques together. Two other women in the church asked if they could attend to learn the craft also. That brought the students to a grand total of 17 for the evening, even while on some streets outside, water was up to car door handles!
One mother reported that when her stepdaughter and friend got home, instead of their usual game-playing, they couldn’t wait to finish what they had learned to do at Kids' Night!
The time passed quickly, the conversation was lively the entire time, people stayed for 90 minutes. Not one child quit or showed frustration with the task. Each child was given a piece of paper in his or her “kit” that indicated the URL for an instructional video, in case they needed to watch another person’s hands, and the name and phone number of their instructor (in case they got really stuck and wanted to arrange to meet with the instructor to help get unstuck).
New friendships were forged between people whose paths might never cross in the same church. The ages ranged from 5 to 90-something. The event far exceeded expectations and opened up a lot of room for discussion about future ways to facilitate the original goals – which were achieved abundantly!
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