In January of 2020 a student approached me – through her own efforts, she had earned a sizeable grant to undertake a project which promoted mental health that she wanted to bring to her peers and students at other schools. This project was a Calm Kit, which is a bag of items that are crafted into a variety of tools used to calm anxiety. Kaitlyn was a freshmen then, and the grant she received had allowed her to purchase most of the materials for the bags, but she was hoping for a partnership with our space to help accomplish the task of assembling them. We happily agreed! After finishing up a bit of our January project we got to work laying everything out and got started, deciding we would extend the project through March since she had a lot of materials to make bags from and wanted to distribute them to as many schools as she could. The bags include six different calming items that had bits and pieces that go into a bag (see the link above for details).
…then the world as we know it changed significantly. Our school released for Spring Break on March 13, 2020, and did not return to in person school until October of 2020. We then had to go remote again until sometime in February (or maybe March) of 2021. Sadly, the library was closed the entire year to prevent cohort commingling even when students were in the building, and that meant the makerspace was closed too.
We came back in-person in August of 2021 and have remained open. As things got going and we figured out how to keep students appropriately distanced in our makerspace, I contacted Kaitlyn, now a Junior, and asked her if she wanted us to pick up where we left off; she enthusiastically agreed, especially since the pandemic only heightened the anxiety and other mental health issues of many teens. We got back to it and were able to welcome many new students to the space, since the current sophomores had never had a chance to participate when they were freshmen. 12 students participated and put together 100 bags, which we donated to the counseling office in our school as well as to the counseling offices of the other high schools in our district.