Seventh grader Kip Nilsson decided to celebrate Mother’s Day this year by giving back, while social distancing. His family joined dozens of other Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton (SHS) Lower and Middle School (LMS) students and their families to make 1,500 face shields at home for healthcare workers over the past month. After his family assembled 50 shields, Nilsson and his father dropped them off at a health office in Los Altos where they were put to immediate use.
It was part of a community service opportunity comprised of primarily seventh and eighth grade LMS families in partnership with local non-profit Something Labs
, a volunteer coalition that provides Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to medical workers.
“We should give back to these brave people who help others in need even when they’re at risk of catching the virus,” said Nilsson. Throughout shelter-in-place orders, he and his family had watched the news stories ramp up about shortages of PPE, and wanted to help.
“[This] project definitely gave us a sense of purpose and hopefulness,” said Blythe Nilsson, Kip’s mother. “I think many of us right now wish to help our healthcare workers and community to be protected, but aren’t sure where to start or how to make a meaningful impact. The materials [teacher] Kelly Power and Sacred Heart provided made the mask construction easy and safe; we could clearly see that our masks would actually be used, and useful, which was satisfying.”
The project came into being after SHS middle school science teacher Lauren Chain introduced P-8 community service teacher Kelly Power to Something Labs. Chain shared with her stories about people in the medical field using shields made of plastic liter bottles due to supply shortages, and Power was inspired to get involved. This group was being “economically and environmentally sound with their design and product,” Power said, and was a good fit with SHS.
Power did a test run of 100 face shields and found they were quick and easy to make, so she introduced the project to the P-8 community. Five families volunteered and completed 400 shields for a medical facility in Los Altos. Soon after, a need arose for 1,000 shields for a healthcare network in Alameda; with 15 SHS seventh and eighth grade families volunteering, Something Labs was able to fulfill the order.
“I know we all want to do something to make a difference, but we need to consider our safety. This connection to Something Labs is ‘something’ that our families can do at home to make a difference,” said Power.
Hannah Shulman, volunteer with Something Labs, agreed with Power. “By making PPE with youth at Sacred Heart Schools, we can link the health of disparate communities and scale the effort to flatten the curve to fight COVID-19,” said Shulman. “We're so grateful to the Sacred Heart community for their support.”