BHS students make birthing kits in school’s makerspace
By Shelley Widhalm
Berthoud High School (BHS) students drop in to the library every day in October to help women in Haiti.
The students head to the school’s compassionate makerspace to make flannel receiving blankets and baby hats for new mothers.
Next month the students will be volunteering to do something else, since the makerspace, founded in May 2017, rotates projects every month. The program run inside the makerspace is called Make for Good, as are the projects.
“It’s important that students are able to engage in service that is really here in the school,” said Carin Barrett, teacher librarian and social studies teacher at BHS. “It’s not affiliated with any organization, religion or club. You don’t have to be in anything to participate.”
Barrett and Michelle Trujillo, library assistant, moved their desks out of the library administrative office into the main library to open up the office for the makerspace, which is open all day. Students can drop in at any time to help with projects that have included comfort bears for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office Victim Response Team, cold weather care kits for the FoCo Café and Longmont Public Library, fidget blankets for the Life Care Center of Longmont, and Port-A-Cath Pillows for Medical Center of the Rockies, which are small pillows that cover hospitalized patients’ medical ports.
The students come during their open or advisory periods, lunches or any free time they have during the school day to create projects and serve nonprofits. At the end of the school year they receive a certificate with the number of hours they volunteered, which can be used toward their volunteer requirements for service clubs and academic programs, and starting in 2021 as a requirement for graduation.
“It’s always here for them,” Barrett said. “It’s just really so encouraging for them, and I want them to be able to have that experience as often as possible.”
Barrett wanted to bring a makerspace to the school after seeing others pop up at K-12 schools across the nation. The library’s makerspace has the materials and tools needed for the students to do the work, including three sewing machines, a 3D printer, knitting looms and card-making supplies, all in a 10-foot by 18-foot space. There also is a large round table for the students to do the work.
“It has grown to a successful program,” Barrett said. “The projects are pretty extensive, and the kids are making things that are more complex.”
The students have provided projects for two nonprofits this year and 13 last year, Barrett said. They donated 354 hours last year, and 75 students, or 10 percent of the student body, made the donation.
The BHS Make for Good Birthing Kits for Haiti launched Oct. 1 and will continue through the end of the month to make 30 birthing kits for at-home deliveries. The kits include blankets and hats handmade by the students and several purchased items, covered by donations through an online fundraiser, https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0f4da9ad2fa1fa7-birthing. The materials include sheeting to contain the birth matter, string to cut off the umbilical cord, latex gloves, soap, gauze and maxi pads, along with other items placed in a fabric carrying bag, which the students also make.
“This is so women can have the most sanitary conditions to prevent infections,” Barrett said about many families in Haiti not having access to or the funds to pay for a hospital delivery.
Barrett and Trujillo cut out the flannel for the blankets, and the students do the sewing. The students use a pattern to cut, pin and sew the hats, choosing from a large selection of fabrics.
“They get to choose how they want to put it together in terms of the fabric,” Barrett said.
The kits will be donated to the Konbit Sante Cap-Haitian Health Partnership in Portland, Maine, which aims to increase the health standards in Haiti, specifically the Northern Coast.
The project for next month is to make Christmas-themed items for the Greyson Project, https://www.thegreysonproject.org/, which involves delivering bags of decorations to families spending the holidays in children’s hospitals across the country.
For more details about the Make for Good makerspace, visit https://bhsmakeforgood.org/.
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