Students in Caroline Baker’s Costume & Fashion Design class at Charleston County Art School (SOA) received some difficult news this week. Because the closure of schools in South Carolina is now extended until the end of April due to the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), the annual SOA Fashion Show is postponed indefinitely. However, from adversity comes opportunities to serve and support the health care community.
42 Fashion Costumes & Design courses at SOA now make (design and sew) blankets for various types of masks worn by doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, as well as masks for patients. Blankets provide an additional layer of protection, help prevent the spread of disease, and can extend the life of the mask.
Baker usually asks his students to work on community service projects in May, but the time is right to respond to needs, so he introduces this project in March when students usually get ready to present their clothing collection in a fashion show.
“There was a bit of disappointment because we changed gears from something we prepared for six months,” Baker said. “On the other hand, this gives them something positive to focus on, and I think they really need it. Many of them have parents who are nurses and doctors, so I hope it empowers them and makes them feel there is something they can do to help their parents too. “
Last week, Baker’s former client (Baker also designed the wedding gown), who works in the medical field, said that his mask was rationed in hospitals and doctor’s offices, and there was an important need to keep the mask as clean as possible. So Baker developed the prototype cover for the N-95 mask. From there, he started a Facebook group called Sewing. Some. Good. with a few invitations. After one day, they had more than 150 members. That number doubled before the third day, and there were more than 650 volunteers in less than a week. Within a few days, Baker also collaborated with Jessica Boylston and Mackie Moore Grow the Power of the Charleston Mask and since then the three have worked hard in the community.
The positive impact on health care providers has been magnified thanks to support from the community. People from the Facebook group now provide covers to individual health care workers based on need. However, there are plans to collect a larger amount to donate it to the local hospital.
“The stories I have heard since we started opened my eyes,” Baker said. “At this time, if you have direct contact [with patients] and you are truly unprotected, you are priority. “
Some Baker’s students actually got involved with a Facebook group last week and started volunteering to design and make mask covers. Which, in Baker’s opinion, proves the ability of this generation: hard work, dedication, creativity, and compassion.
“You see all these photos of irresponsible children on the beach and coming out [in crowds], “Baker commented. “There are also all these amazing and wonderful children who are connected, looking for ways to help. They don’t have parents at home because their parents at the hospital are working. I just want to show that there is another side to teenagers who really aren’t seen enough, and how unselfish and motivated they are. “
“When I heard about the mask-making project that my teacher organized, I was eager to help medical professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mia Lassiter, a junior at SOA. “This project has a meaningful goal, and I’m grateful to be involved in it.”
SOA Fashion & Design students will gain valuable insight when it comes to producing these covers and masks. For example, in this case, it makes more sense to create something practical; aesthetics are secondary.
“It’s important to think about functions, techniques, problem solving, helping, and being good people in general,” Baker said.
“I am very proud to be associated with teachers and students who use their artistic gifts to make a positive impact on society, especially during times of crisis,” added the SOA headmaster, Dr. Shannon Cook.
Baker has seen something else that is very important for students when they want to be successful in real life, real world experiences: dealing with crises while still caring for others and being productive.
“These children entered my class and some could barely sew and some could barely draw,” Baker explained. “Then they built these skills so quickly, but forgot how amazing they were to be able to do something that helped the community. Not everyone can do it. This reiterates to children how cool and special they are. “
For more information about SOA’s Costume & Fashion Design student work, or Sew. Some. Good. , email Caroline Baker at [email protected]