FCCLA Quilting Project Fights Bullying
Prasad, Vandita, Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences
Bullying in schools is a topic of serious concern. According to a survey conducted in the United States, approximately 30% of youth in grades 6-10 have reported some involvement in moderate or frequent bullying, and this problem affects about 5.7 million youth (Nansel et al., 2001).
To deal with bullying, 2 years ago, Byrnedale Junior High School in Toledo, Ohio implemented the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, a program that has received both national and international recognition. The program requires cooperation and support of administrators, teachers, students, and parents to be successful (Olweus, 1993).
According to Gubler and Croxell (2005), FCS professionals can play a vital role in dealing with the bullying problem. By incorporating special activities and programs, they can help reduce the problem and transform the school's emotional climate. Byrnedale FCS students in FCCLA decided to support the program by creating a large anti-bullying quilt that would be signed by all staff and students. When the quilt was started in the 2004-2005 school year, the FCCLA membership was composed of 10 seventh graders. Though the group was small, the students had thoroughly enjoyed the sewing portion of their FCS class and were eager to tackle this ambitious project. Seventh graders in Babylon, NY, had shown similar eagerness for such challenging quilting projects (Theiss, 2005).
To start, students cut about 700 five-inch squares of white cotton fabric and distributed squares to all students in the school. Each student was asked to sign a square, decorate it (if he or she wished), and write an anti-bullying message using a permanent marker. Students wrote messages such as: "Treat others as you want to be treated," "No bullying because it hurts people's feelings," and "Stop bullying-It's not cool!" FCCLA members then collected the squares and pieced them together. Sewing straight seams was challenging because of the students' limited sewing experience, but they were enthusiastic about the project. Working after school and during lunch hour, they had pieced together 535 squares to complete the quilt top by the end of the school year.
The following year, the FCCLA membership increased to about 70 members. The new members were as enthusiastic as the previous year's students. Because the quilt was huge (approximately 16 feet x 4 1/2 feet), it was impossible to machine quilt. The students took the challenge and quilted it by hand as they sat around the quilt, picking an area to work on each week. As they hand-quilted, they shared personal feelings and stories about bullying. They also discussed the need to stand up against any form of bullying. …