January 8, 2019

Williams Parkway Sr. weaves waterproof mattresses for developing countries

​For one and a half years, students from Williams Parkway Senior Public School spent every single lunch break collecting and weaving approximately 13,000 milk bags to create 18 waterproof mattresses and pillows for women and children in developing countries and to prevent milk bags from going into landfills in order to protect the environment.

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Their mentor, Michelle McNeilage, teacher at Williams Parkway, got the idea through a newspaper clipping about Milkbags Unlimited, a non-profit organization that provides milk bag mattresses, created and donated by volunteers, to women initiatives in underdeveloped countries, including Red Cross. When she shared it with students, they immediately took on the project and launched it by making a slideshow presentation to share this initiative with the entire school at their assembly.

The entire project is student-led. They met every day at lunch and worked for 40 minutes. Running as a non-profit business, students made all the decisions, considered advertising and sought their principal's approval for recommendations and executive decisions. Students acted as quality and inventory control experts, organized logistics, and also had supervisor and trainer roles.

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In order to make the mats, students cut the milk bags into strips to loop and weave it together. The additional pieces of the milk bags were used to fill full-size pillows.

The mattresses and pillows are waterproof, and are large enough for a mother and three young children to lay on. They are strong, durable and expected to last approximately 25 years. They are insulate from the cold ground, and are mold, heat and UV resistant to withstand various weather climates. The mattresses are also easy to clean. Alternatively, some organizations, including the Red Cross, would use the mats as a surgical table.

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Students held homeroom competitions to see which class would collect the largest amount of milk bags. Initially, the plan was that the winning class would receive a pizza party --but it turned into much more. Students took the initiative to heart and intend to continue to bring milk bags into the school to create mattresses to help support women and children in developing countries across the globe.

To learn how to create your own waterproof mattresses, please click here.

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