As students and teachers are currently welcoming the new school year, Project Knitwell is celebrating our success in teaching students and teachers how to knit for wellness, comfort, and community.
For more than seven years, Project Knitwell (PK) has taught knitting to hundreds of students facing a variety of special education challenges in the metro Washington DC area. In 2015, we began working at Mount Vernon School and then expanded to Cedar Lane School and the John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA).
When Project Knitwell works in a special education school for students with emotional disabilities, autism, specific learning disabilities, and other health impairments, we are providing more than knitting instruction. We are teaching a simple, yet powerful lifelong wellness tool. You can help us provide kits for students and teachers to learn.
You can supply a kit a month by setting up a $25 monthly donation to help more students and teachers find the comfort of knitting.
At RICA in Rockville, Maryland, the students use knitting to channel their energy. Knitting is an excellent alternative to a sedentary quiet hour for those students who want to keep their hands moving, but still need to rest with a calming craft. Project Knitwell has six volunteers working in RICA’s co-ed residential and day program, offering an academic and behavioral treatment program and summer camp for middle and high school students.
The six RICA instructional volunteers offer more than knitting; they comfort and talk to the students and get to know them. The students know that our volunteers care about them when they share their handknits in order to inspire them to learn for themselves. Our Knitwell Knits Back program is an opportunity for our PK volunteers to share handknit hats and mittens with the students to inspire them to make gifts for their own friends and families.
Our volunteers also inspire confidence to help encourage even those who are reluctant at first. One of our volunteers tells the story of one student that did not feel like she was going to be able to learn to knit and was hesitant to even sit down. The volunteer enthusiastically told her, “I know you can knit if you want to!” She agreed to give it a try and turned out to be a natural knitter who caught on quickly! Our volunteers help these students persevere and overcome challenges.
At Cedar Lane School, in Vienna, Virginia, 15–20 students gather each week to be with their friends and share their knitting project progress. According to the school counselor, the main benefit for many students is the sense of satisfaction and accomplishment when they complete a project. The students also enjoy the community group setting where they can share their creative accomplishments. Also, many of these students have never felt connected to an adult they can trust. Our volunteers provide a safe learning environment working with tactile, colorful materials that stimulate their creativity.
In addition to students, Project Knitwell also works with Bowling Green State University in Ohio to help teachers in rural schools learn to knit in their school communities. Teachers are facing unprecedented levels of stress and burnout. Our grant partnership is leveraging programming that helps build relationships and reduce stress as a way of supporting school safety. Professor Kristina LaVenia reports:
“The teachers and staff learning to knit improved their personal mental health while building stronger connections and relationships between school community members. Helping school personnel focus on finding time to recharge with their knitting is a wonderful self-care practice. This is a wonderful opportunity to help high school students in a rural district, who often lack transportation, meet their community service graduation requirements. Students can knit for charity as one way to earn their diplomas. We look forward to expanding this work under the current grant and also exploring other opportunities for research projects moving forward.”
Project Knitwell provides online instruction both in group settings and one-on-one online at convenient times for them. Our shared knitting circles give the teachers an affinity group where they can find a much needed meditative distraction and gather with other teachers facing the same challenges.
Our mission at Project Knitwell is to help people facing challenges by providing knitting instruction and shared community opportunities that promote wellness and resilience. Our volunteer instructors witness daily how the process of learning to knit can be a way to cope with stress.
Established in 2010, Project Knitwell is a recognized leader in therapeutic knitting. We have participated in research on the benefits of knitting for oncology nurses, and have been featured in The Washington Post, U.S. News, Vogue Knitting Magazine, and other publications.
Will you help us provide more knitting kits to help more students find comfort and community through knitting? Each student is given a quality knitting kit which includes yarn, needles, and our 28-page Resource Guide with patterns. A gift of $25 can provide a full project kit to a student along with our expert instruction. Won’t you consider donating a “kit a month” by setting up a monthly $25 donation?
Help us expand our program offerings to more schools nationwide!
We hope that all students and teachers find outlets for wellness, comfort, and community as they face new challenges this year.
With much appreciation,
P.S. Join us in helping those headed back to school find a new outlet for wellness, comfort, and community by donating a knitting kit which will help ease their transition to the new year!