Downtown Montessori Academy Students Crochet Mats for Homeless

December 1, 2016

Front row from left: LuLu Zarate, Gianna Meer, Isabella Jamel Second row from left: Owen Fisk, Lilly DenDooven, Leila Muhammad, Emma Volpe, Kennedy Schultz Third row from left: Roan Smith, Stella Crane, Breyonna Northway Back row from left: Kelsey McCarron, Elliott Fisk, Ava DenDooven, Diego DeHaan, Elena DeHaan, Jenny Urbanek

Front row from left: LuLu Zarate, Gianna Meer, Isabella Jamel
Second row from left: Owen Fisk, Lilly DenDooven, Leila Muhammad, Emma Volpe, Kennedy Schultz
Third row from left: Roan Smith, Stella Crane, Breyonna Northway
Back row from left: Kelsey Mccarran, Elliott Fisk, Ava DenDooven, Diego DeHaan, Elena DeHaan, Jenny Urbanek PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

Downtown Montessori Academy students learned to crochet to help the homeless, and at the same time, use up some of the ubiquitous plastic shopping bags that plague the planet.

A group of 18 students ranging from Grade 4 to Grade 7 transformed 2,000 bags into two 3.5- by 6-foot sleeping mats and several sitting pillows for the homeless. They met for a total of 13 hours — twice a week between Oct. 4 and Nov. 17.
They cut plastic shopping bags into strips and tied them together to make long strips of plastic yarn or “plarn.”
Lower elementary teacher Kelsey McCarron and art teacher Jenny Urbanek taught the students to crochet with yarn before they tackled the plarn.

 

Plastic yarn (plain) is created from cutting plastic shopping bags into strips and tying them together. PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

Plastic yarn (plain) is created from cutting plastic shopping bags into strips and tying them together. PHOTO Jenny Urbanek

DMA students made plarn sleeping mats and sitting pillows to make winter a little more bearable for the homeless in Milwaukee. “The plarn sleeping mats provide a clean, dry, soft sleeping surface as well as an extra layer between the ground and the sleeper or sitter. They are water-resistant, insulating, lightweight, easy to wash, unlikely to harbor pests, and nearly indestructible,” said Urbanek.
The project helped improve students’ manual dexterity skills, but it also promoted “patience, self-control, creative problem-solving, empathy, and awareness regarding social issues in our community.”

The sleeping mats were donated to Hope House, a transitional living center on the near south side.

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