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IB students create face masks for their community

Wearing a face covering is an important measure in preventing the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). IB World Magazine discovers how students have been designing, sewing and donating masks to those in need.

IB students create face masks for their community
Primary Years Programme (PYP) student Hailey Baker donating masks to her local community

It’s a new situation that many of us are still getting used to: the prevalence of face masks in our lives. But face masks, or coverings, have become mandatory in certain public spaces in various countries all over the world in an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

It’s based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, which states that: “The use of masks is part of a comprehensive package of the prevention and control measures that can limit the spread of certain respiratory viral diseases, including COVID-19”.

This prompted two groups of IB students in Brazil and the U.S. to make face masks to help their local communities.

Sewing against COVID-19

Wearing masks became mandatory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the end of April.

Andres Diaz, Juliana Boschero, Josefina Boschero, Martina Ferrari and Yewon Kim, all Diploma Programme (DP) students at Escola Americana do Rio de Janeiro (EARJ) Gávea Campus, set up ‘Sewing against COVID-19’ for their creativity, activity, service (CAS) projects. Their aim was to make face masks for their neighbouring community, Rocinha in Rio de Janeiro, which had been hit hard by the pandemic.

“Due to the current safety measures to prevent and reduce the spread of the virus, many people have lost their jobs and are in critical financial positions”, says Andres.

Because of the quarantine measures throughout Brazil, the team first collected materials that they already had at home. Later on, they asked for donations to purchase fabrics from local stores. They also created an instruction sheet for how to properly wear and use the masks.

The students used the school’s social media platforms and started an Instagram account to promote fundraising and awareness of the ongoing pandemic. They have raised R$383 (US$72 dollars), with a goal of reaching R$1000 (US$187).

“Because each member of the group comes from a diverse background and has friends and family overseas, we thought that informing people from outside Brazil about our project would be a great opportunity to raise more donations, as well as encouraging them to help each other in this difficult situation”, says Juliana.

The students portrayed various IB learner profile attributes such as thinkers, inquirers, caring, communicators and being reflective. “For instance, we wanted to show our compassion and care for the ones who are in unsafe conditions and don’t have the same resources as we do”, says Josefina.

So far, the students have sewed 345 washable and reusable face masks, which have been delivered to Rocinha, but they want to produce 1,000 more masks. “For now we are planning to continue with our initiative”, add Martina and Yewon.

Young sewing enthusiast makes masks

Hailey Baker, a Primary Years Programme (PYP) student at Thacker Avenue Elementary School for International Studies in Florida, U.S., put her sewing skills to the test to make over 100 face masks for her local community.

After learning to sew in the Girl Scouts, nine-year-old Hailey looked up different mask-making tutorials. At first, she made them for her uncles, who are essential workers delivering bread throughout the county, but has now sent them to friends and family and health workers at Osceola Regional Medical Center and Orange County Health Department.

Hailey’s mother, Lynette Baker, a teacher at the school, says Hailey learned so much throughout the project and displayed different IB learner profile attributes. “With the stay-at-home orders she was not able to go into stores, Hailey was a ‘thinker’ by asking friends and family members to send materials to the house. She was a ‘risk-taker’ and a ‘communicator’ when she spoke up during a National Elementary Honor Society (NEHS) meeting at school, sharing her project with classmates”.

Baker adds: “She was ‘caring’ because she thought about the people most vulnerable during the pandemic and wanted to do something to help them. She was an ‘inquirer’ when she was asked if she could make a mask and learned a way to make them. And she was ‘knowledgeable’ when she researched different types of masks and decided on a double cloth mask with a space for an additional filter.

“She’s been working in her free time trying to make a difference, so I’m so super proud”.

Hailey is continuing to make masks and has created a ‘how to make a mask’ video, sharing it with classmates, her Girl Scout troop and friends and family.

This article is part of a series of stories from IB World Magazine that bring to life the wonderful initiatives undertaken by IB students and educators from around the globe. Follow these stories on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube and email us for a chance to be featured!

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