FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Children staying at the Allen County Juvenile Center (ACJC) are learning something new from an area teacher: how to knit.

The center said it initially started as dedicated weekly enrichment time for students to engage in non-academic learning experiences. Sandy Eager, a teacher in the detention center, began teaching the students how to knit hats using looms. The center said the students quickly found that knitting helps them calms anxieties, relieves stress, focus on something positive as well as give back to the community.

Over the past year, the knitting practice has grown into a well-established program within the center that is supported by Fort Wayne Community Schools employees and Allen County Juvenile Probation. During the 2021 school year, ACJC students have been involved in semester-based knitting projects that have supported the FWCS Clothing Bank, Lutheran South Unity School and M.I.S.F.I.T.S. Ministry, Inc.

As word about the knitting initiative spread, Eager said she was contacted by a fellow FWCS employee from another building in late-January. The employee had heard about how the students at ACJC were knitting for various causes and wanted to know if they would be willing to help her honor her infant son, Finnley, who she lost in October 2020.

The employee wanted to donate infant hats and cocoons, of all sizes, for babies who were stillborn or lived for just a short time after birth. The hospitals have a supply of average infant sized hats but are in needs of smaller (golf ball-sized) through larger than infant, the press release said. Since the start of “The Finnley Project,” the students have made 74 various-sized hats and 71 cocoon sets to be donated as part of their semester knitting project.

In addition to The Finnley Project, group members have completed the following projects:

  • Donated to SPCA 70 braided yarn ropes so cat toys can be attached to them and hang from posts, we made 15 cat scratch boxes and tore 4-5 large garbage bags full of newspaper for bedding for the animals at the SPCA.
  • Made about 100 book markers from paint swatches donated to nursing homes
  • Created over 40 winter hats to be donated this fall to a charity