Watson Chronicle


Programs for P-12 Students

Area Students Participate in JUST US Community Tissue Paper Quilt Project

Monday, May 02, 2022

Local youth from seven area elementary and middle schools and 10 out of school programs explored the concept of empathy through the creation of community tissue quilts. The project is a part of this year’s “JUST US,” a program that uses art to help students develop important social and resiliency skills.

“JUST US” is a partnership between UNCW, local schools and after-school programs. Spearheaded by UNCW’s Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, this year’s program is funded, in part, by the South Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. WCE Professor Janna Robertson wrote the curriculum.

The curriculum introduces the AIDS quilt as a touchstone for the project. Participating students were taught about empathy, then applied their new understanding to create tissue paper quilt panels, guided by the work of award-winning artist Maya Freelon. ​ In April, Freelon worked with youth and community members to join the individual sections into a giant quilt.

The project culminated with a presentation from Freelon and her crafted design of the students’ art pieces, which covered three stories inside the Watson College atrium. More than 200 youth and their families participated in the exhibition, held on May 1 at the Watson College.

Robertson said the participants found special meaning in the project and the quilts they created, and she cited Myrtle Grove as an example.

“After learning about the Memorial AIDS quilt, about empathy, and how art can bring us together, Carolynn Pittroff’s art class made a quilt to honor, remember and celebrate a MGMS teacher and a student who recently passed,” Robertson said. “There is a lot of love in this beautiful tissue paper quilt.”

Partners and participating organizations were Greyson Day, G.L.O.W. Academy of Wilmington; Schala Harper, Trask Middle School; Happy Jones, Cape Fear Center for Inquiry; Carolyn Pittroff, Myrtle Grove Middle School; Dr. Stephanie Willis, Snipes Elementary School; Cape Fear Latinos, Coastal Buds, Communities in Schools, GHA Autism, G.R.I.T.S. Girls Rocking in the South, Harrelson Center, Soaring as Eagles, Theatre for All, Transition Program for Young Adults, Voyage, Watson Student Leaders & Winter Park Elementary School and Young Scientist Academy.

View the curriculum written by Robertson here.

For more information on the JUST US program and the Community Tissue Paper Quilt project, visit the OIDI website.

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