Knitting the Stress Away

Carol Caparosa, USA

Dinan Elsyad on December 11, 2018 in Health & Sanitation

How do you spend your free time? Talking with friends, watching TV, playing sports, sleeping, and more may come to mind, but knitting is probably very far off that list. Who knits anymore? Knitting is for old ladies in rocking chairs, right? Wrong! Not only can knitting be fun, but you can make your own clothing, like hats and scarves, for yourself and your family. However, for Carol Caparosa, knitting is so much more than a hobby. Knitting was a source of light in her life, and eventually led to creation of her non-profit organization, Project Knitwell.

Founded in October, 2010, Project Knitwell started at a hospital; Caraposa would spend hours there, as her daughter recovered slowly but surely from many heart surgeries. Watching a loved one go through hard times can be heartbreaking, and Caraposa needed a way to pass the time as it crawled by; that distraction was knitting. Eventually, Caraposa and her daughter made it out of the hospital, but Caraposa just could not stay away. She came back, years later, to teach other mothers of kids that were hospitalized, how to knit, to pass the time as she did. Through Project Knitwell, knitting became a way to cope with stress in times of hardship.

“Knitting has an uncanny way of calming one’s soul — slowly bringing you back to the present with each row and gently allowing you to release worry, tension, and stress,” Kesha, a mom of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Patient, said. “Project Knitwell was the lifeline during the hardest period of my life.

One of Project Knitwells biggest programs is Knitting in Hospitals. These programs teach patients, family members, and even hospital staff how to knit. Patients include children in the Pediatric Intensive Care and Neonatal Intensive Care units, pregnant moms on bedrest, and others. The program provides the essentials for knitting; a beginner's kit that comes with yarn, needles, a knitting resource guide, and an instructor to guide the patient through the basic knitting skills. The projects they work on include hats, scarves, fingerless gloves, and more.

“Most young people want to make something, right away.” Susan Snell, a volunteer at Project Knitwell, said. “They want to make hat, or a scarf, something. That's part of the fun. I also think it’s one of the nice differences about knitting in hospital settings; its future oriented. They’ll say, oh I’ll make a scarf and wear it to the football game next fall. There's that sense of, I’m looking to the future.”

Project Knitwell has expanded from just hospitals. They also offer Community Knitting Programs, which are held at various schools and community sites, some of which include; Smith Center for Healing and the Arts, the Cancer Resource Center at Virginia Hospital Center, N Street Village, So Others Might Eat (SOME). To learn more about any of these sites, click on the links.

The organization also hosts afterschool programs, mostly for the youth. As explained on their website,

“We have offered after-school programs for at-risk youth through The Alternative House in Vienna, Virginia; for adolescents with severe emotional disabilities at The John L. Gildner Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents in Rockville, Maryland; and at Camp Friendship and Camp Fantastic, two summer camps for children/young adults with cancer.”

“We hope that, for the period of time that we’re working with [the patients and their family members], we make a difference,” Caraposa said.

Project Knitwell also has site across various high schools, where the clubs are designed to help students with emotional challenges. One such school is Mount Vernon High School. Currently at Mount Vernon, the club is working on making blue hats, to spread awareness for anti-bullying. Shaza Elsamani is a teacher at Mount Vernon, and an active member of the Project Knitwell club at the school.

“I think this club is just so important for the kids,” Elsamani said. “Not only is it soothing, but it’s fun, and it gives the kids something to look forward to. The club is a really social place, and a lot of friendships have formed because of it, between the teachers, and even with me and the students.”

Recently, the organization has hosted a fair called Give the Gift of Giving. The fair provides an easy way to give the gift of giving. Project Knitwell partners with other nonprofits, which compiles a “wish list” of essentials the non-profit needs. At the fair, you can buy something off these lists, and donate it. There are two upcoming ones, both from 10 AM to 2 PM: one on December 8 in Arlington, and on December 9 in Takoma Park.

To learn more about the organization, visit their website, https://projectknitwell.org/. To get involved, apply today, at https://projectknitwell.z2systems.com/np/publicaccess/projectList.do?orgId=projectknitwell

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