Hathaway Elementary Students Help Wildlife in Australia

Hathaway Elementry Bat wrap creators
Hathaway Elementary bat wrap creators. Photo credit: Heather Christofferson

Submitted by Heather Christofferson

A Hathaway Elementary School second grader, upset by the news reports of fires in Australia, asked his library assistant “What can I do to help the animals that are injured?” This spurred a whole learning lesson of research and connections with helping others.

Hathaway Elementry Bat Wraps - Isaia Salisbury is at the sewing machine
Isaia Salisbury at he sewing machine working bat wraps. Photo credit: Heather Christofferson

Heather Christofferson, Hathaway’s Library Assistant, took the challenge and found connections with the community and abroad. “We want to encourage connections of learning to real-world experiences,” she said.  “The difficulty is in finding ways that are cost effective.  There are so many opportunities to help both here and abroad.”

Library/Media teacher, Dawn Heap, had already been working with students to recognize good vs. bad websites and how to spot a scam. False offers and dishonest websites can be difficult to spot and developing this skill takes practice and time. Students and teachers worked together to research the best options to help. People from all over the world are crafting and donating relief items to Australia. The students are joining others by finding ways to help and practicing looking for the good in tragedy.

It was decided to partner with the local West Region Relief Crafters of America, World Wildlife Fund, and in Australia, Rhys Nunn at Specsavers. “Rhys is an optometrist outside of Melbourne who really cares too,” explained Christofferson.  Their project is to create bat wraps, sewn flannel fabric that simulate mothers’ wings that are used by caregivers to wrap injured and orphaned bats so they feel safe.  The partnering groups are covering the cost to ship the wraps so there is no cost for students.

Hathaway Elementry Bat Wraps - Ryder Noce, Kelly Otto, Westin Elliot working on stuffing
Ryder Noce, Kelly Otto and Westin Elliot working on stuffing. Photo credit: Heather Christofferson

Christofferson’s 89-year-old mother, Lila Otto, and brother, Kelly Otto, volunteered their time, sewing machines and fabrics to help the second graders with the project.  “We had more volunteers ready to go, but unfortunately we had a snow day,” Christofferson said. “Hopefully, soon, all of our students will have the same opportunity to sew. My mother has always said, ‘You can be part of a solution or you are just part of a problem.’ This is our small way of giving back, helping animals and learning new life skills of experiencing sewing.”

A total of 220 bat wraps were created and will also be used for lizards, possums, sugar gliders and many other smaller animals.  A Hathaway staff member knitted five nests for birds.  The whole supply has been shipped to Australia.

“This is a reminder, even younger students are affected by the news and current events,” Christofferson said.  “We promote positive action at Hathaway to help cope. We want to thank all those who continue to help our students in being a positive force for good in our world. Way to Go Hound dogs! You are definitely part of a solution.”

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