Grade 5 teacher, Ms Jane Gaughan, is inspiring our students to learn to knit! As part of the Action component of the Grade 5 Exhibition many of them are participating in the Rags2Riches Knit-A-Thon which is open to knitters all over the UAE. This involves knitting 15 x 15cm squares which will be sewn together as blankets and sent to orphanages around the world.
The project, set up by Dubai resident Barbara Evans, was inspired by the 67 Blankets for Mandela Movement in South Africa, which started as a movement to supply warmth to the homeless and grew to find itself in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest blanket in the world.
Throughout April, Pam Marsh and Margo O’Mahoney, who are assisting Barbara with the Rags2Riches project, are also helping teach our young students how to knit. They will be collecting the knitted squares, in any colour or design, ready for sewing into the blankets.
GCS is really excited to be involved in such a worthy cause. Our Grade 5 students are currently being taught how to cast-on … that’s the tricky part … and will then be learning the basic knit stitch. Soon they will see their squares take shape. Knitting requires manual dexterity, patience and time to develop the skill, yet is such a rewarding practice for anyone to learn. Knitting even has health benefits! Many doctors agree that the repetitive action of needlework can induce a relaxed state like that associated with meditation and yoga. Once you get beyond the initial learning curve, knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. In addition, the craft activities result in tangible and often useful products that can enhance self-esteem.
Each lunchtime during the rest of April the students will be spending some of the time working on their knitted squares. Staff and parents are also involved, sharing their knitting skills and even creating their own squares to contribute to the GCS blanket. Beginners, professionals, and everyone in between are welcome to join – Rags2Riches want your squares!
Here is the story behind the Barbara Evans’s project:
About 4 years ago I read on Facebook about a 99 year old lady who made 1 dress each day and sent them to orphanages in Africa. This story filled me with motivation and I thought I would love to do something like that in Dubai.
So I took myself off to Satwa with just AED200 and bought as much fabric as I could carry. Then I put a shout-out on the Green Community ladies page, asking if anyone had any fabric or bed linen to gift, so that I can make some clothes for girls and boys orphanages and needy children around the world, who usually just get “hand me downs” or second hand clothes. They deserve to have something made that is Brand New and is theirs to keep forever.
Then one day a lady delivered just 6 Emirates blankets and I came up with the idea of making colourful hooded jackets for the children living in colder climates (Syria, Nepal, India, Africa etc. ) especially in the Winter months.
My son suggested me having a page and my daughter in law named it “Rags2Riches Dubai”, which then opened the floodgates for so many more generous people to gift fabrics, bed linen and blankets.
During this time I was introduced to a lady called Nada Dadoush who works alongside the ForSyria Organisation, and to date I have made over 11,500 garments for 4 – 16 year olds. We now have over 50 ladies around the community (Sewing Bees) who are growing this number every week.
The rest is History.