By Kate Hunger
Kimatha Grice, OTD, OTR, CHT, Occupational Therapy associate professor quilts to relax and to share handmade comfort with others. For the past two summers, she has taught students how to piece and quilt their own creations - and in the process, she has given them an additional way to connect with future patients.
Grice organized the quilting group in the summer of 2016, after sharing with students an article on a study about how crafts such as quilting can enhance wellbeing. Her second-year students were interested in learning how to quilt, so Grice proposed a summer group. The group met on campus after hours and began with the basics. Grice offered to host the group again this past summer, and about half of the entire second-year class participated.
"Many of them have never even used a sewing machine," Grice said, explaining that the School has machines that the group was allowed to use. "Part of the lesson in quilting is to help them learn how to use a sewing machine."
The student's knowledge of quilting will likely be applicable in practice, particularly with patients who quilt.
"Maybe they have had stroke or arthritis in their hand," Grice said. "They might be able to help them do it in an adapted way."
The students displayed their work in October and invited other students and faculty to view their creations.
Joey Hernandez was one of the students quilters this past summer.
"I grew up with my grandma sewing and quilting all the time and I would see her," he said.
Hernandez described himself by completing his project - a blue, white and grey pillow.
"I actually finished it," he said. "It's not the greatest pillow but I'm proud of it."
Hernandez appreciated learning a new skill. But he was just as pleased by the chance to get to know other students outside of the classroom. He also enjoyed getting to know his professor on a more personal level.
Grice began quilting in college. She returned to the craft after years of quilting on and off. She now regularly makes quilts to donate through Threads of Love, a nonprofit that provides quilts, booties, and hats to premature babies. She recently has expanded her efforts to include regular donations of quilts for babies at Heaven for Hope, San Antonio's center for shelter and service for the homeless.
"Even in the midst of crisis in their life, it could be something they could treasure," she said.