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Knit One, Purl Two... Learning New Skills at S.C.C.

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St. Charles College students Alex Vitrani and Brandon Brown concentrate on their knitting in order complete their contribution to their class's "crazy quilt" project.

May 17, 2010 - “I’m a knitting machine,” student Andrea Van Bekkum exclaimed when asked about her new found skill. The St. Charles College Lifeskills class invited teacher Elizabeth Szilva’s mother, Betty Szilva in to teach the students the skill of knitting. “In conversation with my mother, I got the idea that knitting might be a great experience for the kids,” Szilva said. “It is a lost art - and can be a great way to work on the students’ fine motor skills, expand their socialization skills and also learn how to deal with frustration.” They then came up with a class project to create a “crazy quilt”. Each student works on their individual piece and then Mrs.(Betty) Szilva takes the finished pieces home and crochets them together. For those that can, the students sit around in a knitting circle and their teacher explains that this is also a great exercise in working on their conversation skills. For other in the class, different adaptions are made to allow them to participate in the knitting, for instance those that need arm support sit in front of a desk in order to better support their arms. Students who require even more assistance dictate their knitting instructions to the teacher or educational assistant working with them and the staff member carries out their knitting task. Mrs. (Betty) Szilva inspired some of the more reluctant boys to start knitting by telling them the story of famous Montreal Canadian goalie Jacques Plante who learned to knit from his mother and later used this skill to relax himself between games. The students are allowed to take their piece home to work on and have recruited help from their mothers and grandmothers. With a huge grin, student Brandon Brown laughed when asked about his new-found skills. “I like knittin’,” Brown replied, and continued on with his needles and wool, eager to continue on his project.

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