The Upper School Craft Club members participate in this club, using their time to work on favorite craft projects. There are 14 members of the club, many who have challenging academic schedules and a number who are also athletes. Students can work on different projects in knitting, crocheting, painting, scrapbooking, and more, but nearly all of the students have chosen to create crocheted octopus toys for babies born prematurely for a project called Octopus for Preemies.
The Octopus for Preemies is an international project, originating in Denmark according to this Today Show story, that provides premature babies (called preemies) with a special crocheted octopus toy. The tentacles of the octopus mimic the umbilical cord to comfort and soothe the baby. The octopuses have also been found to improve the preemies’ breathing and heart rate, and they are less apt to pull on the wires and tubes that are needed to provide medial support.
“The girls in the club find working on the Octopi is relaxing, and they like the reason for making them,” said Miss Rhonda Ross, Upper School Fine Arts teacher. “I started Octopus for Preemies with the Crafts Club in August 2017 and thought that this project would be a great way to launch the club. MVA has many community projects throughout the year and this was something that my club could do with a dual purpose of providing a student activity and serving our community.”
Miss Ross creates a “kit” that has an octopus body started. Students then add more rows of single crochet to finish most of the body. When they exchange their octopus for another kit, Ms. Ross finishes the assembly and sews a tag to the bottom of each octopus that says, “MVA Crafts Club.” Students add the final touch of styled “hairdos” to give each toy a unique look.
“The girls really enjoy working on the octopi. We’ve created around 100 octopi, which have been donated to a hospital in Volusia County. The Head Nurse in the Neonatal Unit happily shared that NICU nurses provide the toys to babies, and also make parents aware that crowding their child’s crib with toys can be detrimental. So often, our octopus might be the only item recommended for preemies to have in their hospital crib until they get bigger,” said Miss Ross. “I’m proud of our club’s members who have chosen to spend their time on a project that helps others.”