Every Thursday, Zula Bryan joins several women to craft and stitch vibrant vests for kids who frequent Longview’s Progress Center.
Last month, Bryan — and the women of Pleasant Hill Grange No. 101 — contributed 12 hand-stitched vests to the nonprofit agency, which provides services for developmentally delayed children.
Once finished, those at the Progress Center can add weight to the vests by dropping poly pellet-filled bean bags into the pockets, said Kylie Longley, a certified occupational therapy assistant at the center. Prior to the donations, Longley said the center only had two vests on hand to lend to children. The short supply was stretched thin among the many children who used the vests.
“I felt kind of bad using them in the sessions because I couldn’t send them home,” Longley said.
With the donations, the center can send vests home with some children. If parents were to buy the vests online, they could cost between $45 to $60 each.
The vests are used for a number of reasons. Among the uses, the vests provide deep pressure to kids who exhibit sensory-seeking behaviors, Longley explained.
They “help kids meet that sensation they’re wanting and maybe focus more on their environment,” Longley said.
On the flip side, Longley said the vests can provide children a deep pressure that “keeps their sensory system calm,” if they’re over-stimulated. The vests also provide body awareness, helping kids walk better and become more aware of physical obstacles.
Not every child who uses a weighted vest takes one home, but Longley said the donations make it an option for some. Pleasant Hill Grange has contributed weighted blankets, stuffed toys and quilts in the past, Bryan said. At the request of the Progress Center, Bryan said they began stitching the vests — and they plan to continue contributing at least two each month.
“Fortunately we have the people that are willing to do it and have the talent to put them together,” Bryan said. “(The Progress Center) actually reached out to us, and we’re just delighted with the project.”