Nearly 35 years ago I worked with kids in Laguna Beach. That was before I made the quilt and taught Magic Quilt Classes. I was substitute teaching in the public schools and I got a glimpse at what it would be like to be a young person growing up in such an affluent area. It didn't occur to me that all kids in the area weren't affluent.
When we planned a vacation in May for Laguna Beach, I wasn't sure there would be a place that could or would use a mystery volunteer. I did a little research and after a few calls I was set to volunteer at the Boy and Girls Club with a preschool group.
Here I am packing up my stuff that had been waiting in the trunk. I had the big "Magic Quilt" for spreading on the floor and gathering the kids. And I had the "Connected Quilt" with the pictures and messages from other kids and adults who I've gathered with in the last year and a half.
I arrived with my usual mix of enthusiasm and nerves. Communication is always difficult when arranging volunteer visits like this. There's always a fear that word hasn't been passed on and they won't be expecting me. Luckily they were, but I felt like a bag lady as I introduced myself at the desk, weighted down with bags full of quilts and puppets, props and books. I always over-pack, never knowing what I'll use until I get there.
But as usual, the kids put me at ease. First we sat around the quilt looking like an orderly group of preschoolers and before long we were jumping and singing, making patchwork designs with wooden shapes and jabbering with Pickles the puppet.
Laguna Kids Add to the Connected Quilt
After I showed the kids the Connected Quilt, I asked if any wanted to decorate a square to be added to the on-going project. This is my favorite part usually. It's fun to hear what kids have to say as they draw and color. It's usually a time when I learn a little about them, but this time kids were asking me questions for a change. That's always a surprise.
There's never enough time. Suddenly it was time to go. One little girl wrapped herself up in the Connected Quilt. A few kids had fun folding the Magic Quilt. I always ask them to "fold it one more time." I love seeing them laugh when they discover it eventually just won't fold again!
What did I learn?
My idea of "Laguna Beach Kids" has changed! I will no longer think back 34 years and picture the 13 year old girl in Jordache jeans who rolled her eyes at my cheapo Timex and commented. "Nice watch, where'd you get it?"
I'll remember these kiddos in their classroom on Laguna Canyon Road and their eager faces!
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.