During 2009, I tried something new – teaching classes in sewing and quilting for kids (and a few very enthusiastic adults). Since January I’ve taught more than 50 classes, and it’s been quite a learning experience for me (and hopefully, for my students too).
Before I became a parent I knew I loved children, but I didn’t really appreciate their amazing unique qualities until I had one of my own. Likewise, I always knew that children were innately creative, but I didn’t realize how unique their creativity is. I also didn't realize how much sustained focus they can bring to a task when they're deeply engaged. It’s pretty fantastic to watch a 7-year-old practice a brand new skill (even something mundane like backstitch) by creating a wild pastiche of intersecting shapes, or to see a vibrant piece of patchwork take shape in the hands of a 9-year-old concentrating so intensely she leaves the animated conversation and goes somewhere else. And then there’s the surprised look of mastery, the gratifying “wow, I actually made this” moment.
This past Spring and Summer, some of my sewing kids decided that the little “stuffies” they were making in class were too cute to keep to themselves. They formulated a plan and got to work. Together, over several weeks, they created more than 50 little creatures, and when the time was right (during a big festival in our neighbourhood) they created some signage, set up a stand, and sold their creations in an effort to raise money for the Hospital for Sick Children. Within a few hours they sold them all, and raised nearly $200. I’m so proud of their success, and hope they’ll keep up their creative (and philanthropic) spirit for future projects.
It's pretty amazing, given some tools, what we all can do with our creativity. I know several people who, like me, have chosen to design and make things for a living, despite the numerous challenges of this "career" choice. I think the drive to create and to express ourselves (and yes, to be entrepreneurial) is very strong in children, and for some of us, it never goes away!