ROCKFORD — A new crochet club at Lewis Lemon Elementary School is more than just a fun activity, it also develops students’ coping skills and strategies.
A group of about 20 girls is divided into small groups and meets once a week during school hours. They learn the basics and will eventually progress to making scarves. Trauma therapist Ashley Robinson-Walker leads the class.
A few of the girls had asked to meet as a group, but they didn’t know what they wanted to do. One day they spotted Walker’s hooks and yarn in his office and said they wanted to learn how to crochet.
She launched a Donors Choose campaign in January to fund the materials and they were good to go.
“Between the pandemic and all these different things going on, a lot of these girls were losing the means to communicate with each other,” Walker said. “This socialization piece is important.
“I have seen so many girls with increased anxiety and depression. They may not name it as such, but just the thoughts they share with me, I know that’s what they’re saying.
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In a session on Tuesday, three fifth graders gathered in a socially distanced classroom to pick up where their lesson left off the previous week.
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“Grab the yarn the same way you grab the hair, the hook should always be facing you,” Walker explained.
Na’Mya Foat, 10, said she wanted to join the club when she saw other girls getting involved. Sometimes it’s hard, but she’s having fun.
“You learn patience,” she says.
Lamija Jones, 10, said it was her first time trying crochet. The girls are allowed to take their materials home and this is a plus for the fifth year.
“It helps calm me down,” she said.
Fellow group member Raven Doss, 11, said the class was going well despite the learning curve.
“I thought it would be easier, but it’s harder than I thought,” she said.
If another student asked her why she is in the club, here is her answer:
“It’s fun and everyone should try it.”
Assistant manager Ebony Wrenn said if it weren’t for the pandemic, she doesn’t think this idea would have arisen.
“I wonder if we would have thought of this innovative approach if we hadn’t been in a pandemic, because we weren’t crocheting last year,” she said.
For the girls who participate in the club, Wrenn said it gives them a needed outlet.
“I think crochet is an expression in its own way,” she said. “It allows them to express themselves artistically. They realize their own gifts and talents, which I think helps them talk to Mrs. Ashley.
“As a trauma therapist, she’s able to talk to them about whatever they’re thinking, whatever they’re feeling, while practicing those skills, so it’s a win-win situation.”