Inspiring

High school students help the planet and the homeless with innovative blankets

November 23rd, 2020

Today, an increasing number of high school students are getting involved with projects that make a difference in the world. They genuinely want to make a positive impact. Not satisfied with just graduating, these kids have big hearts and goals.

Plastic pollution

Plastic is a major kind of pollution. Every year, roughly 100 billion plastic bags get used in one way or another. These bags, along with other types of plastics like cups, plates, and straws, clog up landfills. Even worse, it takes more than 500 years for plastic to degrade.

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YouTube Screenshot/DailyTop20s Source: YouTube Screenshot/DailyTop20s

Harmful to animals

Besides contaminating the environment, the other big problem with plastic is that it kills innocent wild and marine life. For instance, experts have found beached whales with their stomachs full of plastic. Birds, turtles, and fish die due to starvation because plastic gets wrapped around their bills and mouths, making it impossible to eat.

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YouTube Screenshot/Oceana Source: YouTube Screenshot/Oceana

A second challenge

Plastic pollution a major issue but so is homelessness. In the US alone, officials estimate that more than 500,000 people are homeless at any given time. Living on the streets, they don’t have access to shelter, food, clean clothing, showers, healthcare, and other necessities of life.

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Unsplash/Nick Fewings Source: Unsplash/Nick Fewings

Devising a plan

Shelby Tillema who’s a student at Lakewood High School was bothered by these problems. As an active member of an after-school club, she wanted to do something about them. So, she started to think about ways to tackle both issues.

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YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV Source: YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV

News report

Shelly watched a news report about a group called “Bev’s Bag Brigade,” a group of women who made plarn mats for another organization, Volunteers of America. Their work reduces plastic pollution and provides homeless people with an innovative type of blanket.

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YouTube Screenshot/Denver7 Source: YouTube Screenshot/Denver7

Feeling inspired

That was what Shelby wanted to do. So, she started Lakewood High School’s “Plarn Club.” Quickly, other students got involved. Together, they were on a mission to make the world a better place.

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YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV Source: YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV

What is plarn?

In simple terms, plarn is plastic yarn. The mats are made by crocheting plastic bags. Thanks to the women from “Bev’s Bag Brigade,” volunteers provide a mat to anyone who needs one. For the people without a home, this helps to improve their quality of life.

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YouTube Screenshot/Denver7 Source: YouTube Screenshot/Denver7

On a mission

During a news interview, Shelby explained that any type of plastic bag will do. It doesn’t matter where the bags come from as long as they’re plastic. Now, she needed to streamline the process.

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YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV Source: YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV

It’s a team effort

The students work as a team. Some gather as many plastic bags as they can find while others crochet the plastic into comfy sleeping mats. Combined, they accomplish a lot.

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YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV Source: YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV

Plarn benefits

Plarn mats are long-lasting. They’re also water-resistant, durable, and surprisingly comfortable. Unlike a standard blanket, a plarn mat has some cushion to it.

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YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV Source: YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV

Distribution time

When the members of the Plarn Club finish a batch of mats, they hand them off to the Jeffco Action Center. There, volunteers ensure that homeless people get one. These students help the planet provide something that the homeless community needs. As you can imagine, the people who receive the mats are beyond grateful.

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YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV Source: YouTube Screenshot/JPS-TV

To learn more about this remarkable group of high school students, click on the video below. Their work is both heartwarming and inspiring.

Please SHARE this with your friends and family.

Source: Shareably, YouTube

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