Somerset Times

My Personal Project - Leigh Amores

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Somerset Times Edition

Week 7, Term Two, 2019

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My name is Leigh Amores and for my Personal Project, I have chosen to create 15 teddy bears by utilising the fabric off-scraps from clothing production. I then visit children in hospital and donate the bears, thus reducing the amount of textile waste sent to landfill, while uplifting the experiences of children and families in hospital.

The reason why I have chosen this goal, is based off my current understanding of the consequences of modern societies’ effect on the environment, and my own initiative towards wanting to decline these detrimental effects. Being a Somerset Sustainable Spartan, I have always wanted to benefit our planet, and reduce the detrimental effects of globalisation. Through research, I have discovered that the global fashion industry contributes substantially towards the waste in our landfills. Specifically, I discovered that 20 per cent of the total fabric consumed by the fashion industry, becomes textile waste. The majority, if not all of this percentage, comes from the fabric-off scraps that are left on the floor and thrown out during garment cutting. These small pieces of material still have the potential for reuse, however, are discarded for their size and shape. By using the estimation that 20 per cent of all textile waste is off-scraps, it is estimated that the fabric fills 80 million cubic square metres of landfill space in one year.

Discovering that an astonishing amount of quality, but small and irregular pieces of fabric are constantly being sent to landfill, inspired me to find a way to utilise the potential of this wasted resource. Through this, I initially planned to create a clothing line, likewise to companies such as Zero Waste Daniel, however experienced much difficulty. I then inevitably decided to create teddy bears, making and stuffing them with fabric off-scraps. Because of my previous experiences in hospital and receiving the comfort of a stuffed toy, I then then planned to donate the bears to a paediatric ward to the Gold Coast public hospitals. When I was seven, I broke my elbow and had to stay in hospital overnight. Being young, I was afraid and confused about what was going on around me. However, that night I received a teddy bear from one of the nurses. I can clearly remember that teddy bear being of great comfort to me, hugging it tightly like my life depended on it. Because of the great emotional impact I have previously felt in the past, I understand the true benefit of toys, and thus, have always wanted to make other children in hospital feel comfort too in a scary and unknown environment. Therefore, I hope that my actions can give children and their families to comfort, to brighten their experiences in hospital.

To achieve my goal, I had to complete many tasks. Firstly, late last year, I contacted local clothing manufacturers on the Gold Coast and Brisbane and asked whether if it was possible if I could have some of their fabric-off scraps from clothing production, that would have been instead been sent to landfill. I was able to maintain contact with CCC manufacturing and OCC apparel over email and was lucky enough to receive fabric scraps from both companies. Now that I had the materials, I needed to learn how use a sewing machine. After purchasing a sewing machine, I received an introductory lesson from my mum’s friend who was able to teach me effectively the basic function and tips behind using a sewing machine. At this time, my initial goal was to produce a clothing line, however once it changed, I knew that I had to contact a hospital/charity that would enable me to visit their paediatric centre to donate my bears.

After research, I found the Gold Coast Hospital Foundation, who happily accepted my offer over email and call. On April 18, I then visited the Gold Coast University Hospital and was extremely moved by what I experienced. Through my contact with the Foundation, I met Tegan, the Fundraising Co-ordinator. She was very welcoming and asked me to appear on their media (as we had previously discussed on the phone). We then took photos of the 15 teddy bears with the nurses in the children’s ward, and filmed a video explaining my Project. Afterwards, we went around the ward and visited four kids and their families to donate the bears. While visiting, I met wonderful families who opened up to me about their struggles and worries, constantly having their young child in and out of hospital and how they felt grateful for my kindness. This really opened my eyes and heart as I had never in my life come across young kids in such scary situations.

I was grateful myself to just be there and have the opportunity to meet such strong kids and to give them a little bit of happiness over Easter. As expected, there wasn’t a lot of kids in the hospital as most of them were well enough to go home for Easter. Therefore, I was aware that those in the hospital had experienced the most hardship, even though they were only three to 11 years old. Through completing the 'project’ aspect of my Personal Project, I am very happy and satisfied with how it has enlightened me and improved my skill-set, while also having a positive benefit on others and the environment. This is truly an experience that I will treasure and remember for the rest of my life.

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