As part of Salpointe’s IMPACT Service Day, two Lancer seniors designed their own project that is still having an impact on the community. Emily Modisett
and Natalie Nye
collaborated with the Abbie School
, which provides a specialized educational environment to 55 students with academic needs. Many students at Abbie have a diagnosis of Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, Learning Disability, OHI, Sensory Processing Disorder or similar.
"Our students sometimes appear to be having a tantrum when in fact they are responding to overstimulation," said Susan Modisett, Executive Director of the Abbie School. "We have found that the door to learning is opened by keeping our students regulated by reducing anxiety that can quickly cause sensory overload. Research shows that weighted blankets have a calming effect on children with autism and sensory issues. The pressure increases their serotonin levels and helps to regulate their moods and ease relaxation."
“Their mission is important,” Natalie said, “because Emily and I both know children with Autism and the Abbie School helps provide care and education for children who have Autism.”
“I think that it is very important to give back to those with disabilities," said Emily. “It is important to be grateful for our own circumstances and see that we are able to help others in theirs.”
Emily and Natalie heard that the Abbie School has a shortage of weighted blankets, which are very expensive to purchase. For kids with disabilities, weighted blankets are an important soothing tool that reduces stress and anxiety.
“We were motivated to find a cheaper solution that could be replicated by the children at the Abbie School,” Natalie said.
Emily and Natalie had the idea to create their own weighted blanket out of rice and recycled sheets. They marked out grids on a bedsheet, placed 1/3 cup rice into each grid and sealed it with hot glue and another side of the sheet. After the weighted part of the blanket was completed, they glued a felt blanket to the outside so it could be soft and comforting. These two ladies made a blanket in a few hours using inexpensive materials.
“After seeing the need at the school,” Emily said, “I think that the blanket made a difference. Not only did it provide one of the high-demand sensory accessories, but it also helped to write a recipe for building a weighted blanket for future volunteers.” The students at the Abbie School will even be able to create their own weighted blankets.
“We have been very interested," said Susan, "in getting weighted blankets for our students as part of their “Sensory Diet,” however after receiving the blanket that Emily and Natalie made for us, we are now looking into making our own blankets. By making our own blankets we will also get to actively learn about self-advocacy. We are excited about adding this enrichment program to our school for many reasons. Not only will the students be engaged in an activity that serves their own needs, but it also empowers them in their service to others - a double hitter! If they can be of service to themselves or their classmates, that gives them a trade and experience that help them transition in the future. It seemed like a simple project, until it was done. Then I looked at it and realized how huge the impact is. These girls opened the doors for this. We are grateful that Salpointe supports our school and our community, and we hope that we may continue to pass on what you have given to us.”
Even though IMPACT was several weeks ago, the work the Lancers did that day continues to make a profound impact on individuals and the community as a whole. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, "The best way to find yourself is in the service of others."