ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Katy Balko, 13, recently discovered a fun, relaxing new hobby and a satisfying way to give back to the community.
A few months ago, the seventh-grader learned to knit through Madison Middle School’s autism magnet program, which draws students from around the east side. She ultimately completed six small beanies for premature and newborn babies, as well as kids with cancer.
In total, the students in the autism program – nine seventh-graders and three sixth-graders – knitted 84 hats, donating them to Presbyterian Hospital during a presentation at the school Feb. 3.
“I tried to come up with good colors for the babies,” she said. “I got really good at the end.”
Madison Middle School special education teacher Zayda Raimundi applauded her students for all their hard work on the beanie project, which kicked off in late November.
“When they’re knitting, they have to concentrate, so, at least for a little while, their other cares go away,” said Raimundi, who first began teaching knitting to students with emotional disorders. “Once they get the hang of it, it’s amazing to watch them.”
After the presentation, Annie Lopez, a pediatric oncology social worker for Presbyterian Hospital, accepted the hats and said she was excited to present them to Neonatal Intensive Care Unit staff and child cancer patients.
Lopez told the Journal that other schools are welcome to come up with their own creative donation drives.
“We always appreciate it,” she said.
A number of students said they plan to keep knitting – for themselves and others.
Next, Katy wants to try a scarf and a blanket, while her classmate Ryan Burton, 13, is looking forward to making more hats and maybe some socks if he can get the shape right.
Matt Aley, a 12-year-old sixth-grader, proudly wore a hat he made for himself complete with a big rainbow pompom.
He’s so proud of his creation that he plans to post a YouTube tutorial on pompoms for his 10 subscribers.
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