From a building on LSI’s Bremwood Residential Treatment Center campus, snippets of conversation can be heard over the soft whirring of sewing machines.
“Does anybody have any blue thread?”
“I’m going to sew a Santa design on my shirt!”
For the past year, youth on campus have been learning new sewing skills thanks to a generous donation of sewing machines from a local sewing shop.
The group is lead by Chris Weber, the School Liaison at Bremwood. Youth in the group have embroidered T-shirts and towels, but the sewing room is a way to give back to the community too. Last summer, the group sewed pet beds that were donated to the Cedar Bend Humane Society in Waterloo.
Chris says the sewing room has been a motivation for many youth on campus.
“Some kids have challenging behaviors when they’re bored and don’t have anything else to do,” he says. “This is positive reinforcement for their good behaviors, and a lot of them do really well if they have a structured activity.”
Jordan, 14, has been thriving. He has been involved in several activities during his time at Bremwood. But when each activity would end, and he was left with no creative outlet, his anger would return.
Sewing helps Jordan practice his coping skills. Whenever he has to share a machine or his work doesn’t turn out quite the way he wants, Jordan works on managing his anger in a positive way.
The sewing room is also a place for children to grow into leadership roles, Chris says. Fifteen-year-old Rianna has been learning to sew throughout the last year, and she supports and guides others like 15-year-old Greg, who has recently joined the sewing group.
“Rianna is to the point where she can help another youth who’s only been here for a week. It’s been great to see her take on that role,” Chris says. “The sewing room is another way for the kids to be creative, and learning to sew is a skill they can hopefully use later in life.”