South Cache students make plarn mats for refugee camps

students with plarn mat


Students at South Cache Middle School are learning how to think globally and act locally through service. This year, Andrea Talbot and Julie Derrick's 7th-grade classes are making woven plarn (plastic yarn) mats intended to help refugee families. 


The mats are made by cutting hundreds of plastic grocery bags into strips and then weaving them together. The finished mats are sent to Stitching Hearts Worldwide, a humanitarian center in Salt Lake City, that then ships them to refugee camps across the world.


students making plarn mat     students making plarn mat   students making plarn mat


The inspiration for this project came from a book students read in their 7th grade ELA class called A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park. It describes the true story of a refugee boy who fled Sudan and lived for eight years in a refugee camp with horrible conditions. As a capstone to South Cache’s project, the director of Cache Refugee & Immigrant Connection will come to the school and present as a guest speaker. Students will have the opportunity to learn about other ways to help our new neighbors in the community. Cache Refugee & Immigrant Connection is an organization that helps refugees who have settled in Cache Valley. 


Talbot said that she and Derrick decided to do this service project because they wanted students to learn about difficult things going on in the world around them and then do something about it. "They are not helpless or powerless to make a difference in the world," Talbot explained. "Even though weaving a few mats is a small thing, I'm hoping that students will learn to think outside of themselves, reach out, and serve others."


Participating students are excited to hear about where their plarn mats end up and to see pictures of people they have helped. They are also happy to help the environment by upcycling thousands of single-use plastic grocery bags. This simple service project has empowered them to help those around them and make a difference in the world. 


A similar plarn weaving service project was done last year at Mountainside Elementary (read the article here).