Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – Security Blanket

Name: Jessica Tennett
From: Cranston, Rhode Island
Grade: 11
School: Cranston High School West
Votes: 0



twelve by twelve inch blanket offers the perfect dimensional coverage
to swaddle a premature baby. I devote fifteen hours to knit just one
of these small cocoons, methodically using the purl stitch and
weaving the cotton fiber in a diagonal fashion. Using size eight
needles with gender-neutral yellow or white soft yarn, my finished
blankets are sent to Women and Infants Hospital in Providence to
comfort the new souls who are in a rush to enter this world before
their gestational due dates.

years ago, if anyone had suggested that knitting would be a part of
my future, I would have shaken my head in disbelief. However, the
craft offered me solace at a time when I needed it the most. Going
into my freshman year of high school, I was still absorbed in the
calamity that had stricken my family only a few years prior. My
teenage cousin committed suicide when I was just twelve years old,
and the tragedy weighed down on me each day afterwards. By nature, I
am an idealistic person, so it was difficult for me to understand why
he would take his life. Furthermore, the consequences that it had on
my family were too drastic to comprehend. In an effort to cope with
these feelings, I began volunteering at my local library. The quiet
and calm atmosphere balanced the angry and confused thoughts that
plagued my mind. It was there that knitting found me, seeking me out
in the haven in which I passed my days.

a rainy Sunday afternoon, just a few short weeks after I began
volunteering, an elderly librarian invited me to attend the library’s
monthly knitting club the following Saturday. Although a bit
skeptical of the age group that would typically participate in such
an event, I accepted. After having buying me a pair of needles and
ball of yarn, my mother dropped me off that Saturday afternoon. I
entered the building to find an abandoned table; I was the only
person there. The librarian taught me the basics of knitting in just
twenty minutes, and I spent the next two hours sitting alone with my
needles and yarn. While at first I was frustrated with the difficulty
of the craft, I soon discovered that I had a natural knack for it.
The patience, concentration, and self-discipline that are necessary
to knit well mirrored my personality traits, allowing me to pick up
on the talent quickly. For the remainder of the afternoon, my hands
worked tirelessly as my mind laid back in ease. The burden that I had
been carrying around for three years was relieved for a short while.
Two hours later, as I reluctantly moved toward the doorway, the
librarian informed me that if I was willing to finish the blanket at
home, she would bring it to the hospital so that it could be used to
comfort a premature baby.

initially was no more than an effort to pass my Saturday now had a
much deeper purpose. Knowing whom my small works of art were
affecting ignited a passion I had never known before. I worked
feverishly night and day to knit not only one, but twelve blankets.
However, my new hobby was not only benefitting newborns. With each
stitch, my stress was reduced and my worries faded away; it offered
an escape from pressures of the outside world. After the first few
blankets, my mind grew clearer and I became intrigued with the
underdeveloped babies whom I was knitting for; why were they
premature and what neurological deficit would they face in the
future? I began researching the neuroscience behind premature births
and developed a passion for the subject as a whole. Suddenly, both
the yarn and my future were being tied together. I inadvertently wove
myself a security blanket, garnering confidence in myself and in my
career path.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".