Piecing together patience and compassion

Baltimore students create quilt to aid victims of oil spill

  • First through fourth graders of Camp Achieve, an extended learning and math acceleration program in Baltimore City, donated a handmade quilt as the culmination of a service learning project to the Art vs. Oil Spill charity auctions to be held on the Gulf Coast during the month of October, all of the proceeds of which will be given to non-profit organizations providing wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in the wake of the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
First through fourth graders of Camp Achieve, an extended learning… (Photo, Baltimore Sun )
December 05, 2010|By Nancy Jones-Bonbrest, Special to The Baltimore Sun

Like many who heard about the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the students of Camp Achieve in Baltimore were upset to learn of the damage it caused, especially to the animals that were forced from their habitats.

So they did something about it.

First-through-fourth-graders at the summer academic program contributed to a handmade quilt that was donated to benefit the Art vs. Oil Spill charity auctions held on the Gulf Coast this fall.

"The kids were really excited about the project and to help out," said Brenda Wade, founder and executive director of Achievement Services, the nonprofit organization that operates Camp Achieve. "They understood the purpose of making it. They understood, some of them probably for the first time, how good it feels to give than to receive."

The art segment of Camp Achieve, an extended learning and math acceleration program for students of Guilford Elementary, addresses character building by presenting a different trait each week of the six-week program. The discussion focused on respect, compassion, trust, honesty and patience.

The project that covered patience as a character trait included building and decorating a papier-mache turtle. The turtle theme carried over into making the quilt, when students learned sea turtles in the gulf would hatch and return to the water affected by the spill.

The quilt project was the culmination of a service-learning lesson and character-building lesson prepared by Camp Achieve's art teachers Ceilon Aspensen and Lisa Black during the last week of the program.

"The oil spill showed them we all have a responsibility to care for the planet. And if we are irresponsible, then there are consequences," said Aspensen, who teaches art at Patterson High School during the regular school year. "Even little people can do great things."

An artist herself, Aspensen first learned of the Art vs. Oil Spill charity from her friend and watercolor artist Paul Jackson. He started the charity effort via Facebook as a way for artists who wanted to help raise funds to benefit wildlife rescue efforts along the Gulf Coast in wake of the oil spill.

She donated a piece of her own artwork and thought the students could contribute as well.

So she, Black and Wade came up with the quilt idea and helped the students draw sea turtles on 10-inch muslin fabric squares. The students, who each signed their work, easily executed the drawings in only a few days. The first- and second-graders made squares for the back of the quilt and the third- and fourth- graders made squares for the front.

Then Aspensen and her mother, Margaret Mueller of La Plata, consulted with Material Girls Quilting Boutique in La Plata to turn the squares into a quilt.

Aspensen, who had never made a quilt before, estimates that she spent about 40 hours pulling the project together. She then shipped the finished quilt to Jackson to be sold at one of three fundraisers. Although it didn't sell at the first auction in Pensacola, Fla., those involved were pleased it sold at the second.

The quilt fetched $700 during the auction in Gulfport, Miss., on Oct. 17. Proceeds went to the Wildlife Rehabilitation and Nature Preservation Society, a nonprofit organization in Long Beach, Miss., dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of orphaned, sick and injured wildlife.

Together the auctions — including a third held in Baton Rouge, La. — raised more than $10,000, according to Jackson, who lives in Missouri. "We had professional artists from around the world contribute artwork, but that quilt stole the show," he said. "It won over everybody."

Wade said this was the first year for the Camp Achieve summer program, and she expects to include a service-learning project next summer as well.

"It was a good fit for our students," Wade said. "They had a good time making it, and they were excited at what they were able to do and accomplish."

Information about Achievement Services and Camp Achieve can be found at achievementservices.org.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.