In this season of gratitude, Pursuing the Promise sat down with Loryn Smith and Kelli Wild, two front-line fighters in the battle for vulnerable children, and talked weighted blankets. With clinical backgrounds and professional experiences, both Smith and Wild have borne witness to the benefits of weighted blankets and the blessings they bring to families.
Quick provision is the greatest gift the weighted blankets bring to Smith and Wild. “It supports me by having it readily available to provide for a family that is often already overwhelmed,” Wild explains. When a vulnerable child has a need, the ability to meet it immediately can be life changing for a family. It allows the healing process to start right away, without the need for the caregiver to search for the product or become financially stretched in the purchase of the blanket. What could have created overwhelmed was avoided, and the family can begin to use the new resource instantly. The opportunity to not only provide spiritual and emotional support for a family, but also tangible needs efficiently is important. Smith states, “Because I have them in my car I can say ‘have you tried a weighted blanket?’ and most parents don’t have the finances or the product knowledge about the benefits and I can just hand it to them.” This provision is possible through the faithful work of quilters like Nancy Hale, who believe that every child should have a chance at comfort.
Weighted blankets are used in different ways for different children. Wild says they are conducive for the betterment of a child’s regulation. “They are helpful for some children who need some sensory input to help them regulate. I look at it like a hug, they can place it across their shoulders or on their lap and it can provide comfort. I also use it with kids who have difficulty falling asleep, it can help them stay asleep throughout the night. I use it a lot for calming down, or a difficult moment,” Wild details. The benefits of a weighted blanket can create a shift in a family’s dynamic. Let’s say a child who has suffered trauma is struggling to stay asleep at night, waking multiple times throughout his or her sleep cycle. This in turn is keeping the caregiver awake, creating a lack of rest in them. Studies show that lack of sleep can have negative effects one one’s overall health. The child who is struggling to sleep can use their gifted weighted blanket to not only fall asleep, but stay asleep, which has been proven successful in families helped by Smith and Wild. A family who is well rested is better able to function in various aspects of life. A weighted blanket has primary effects on the child, however; we cannot ignore the secondary effects it could have on a family unit by creating comfort and connection. Smith shares, “I was working with a young child who was having a hard time at home and at school and provided them with a weighted blanket that they were able to pick out themselves. The child brought the blanket to school which helped with their focus and agitation. The resource also relieved teasing from classmates as the blanket was more non-conspicuous then other items previously brought to school to provide comfort.”
There is great ministry done in the exchange of these blankets. Wild explains the gift of a weighted blanket as a bridge, a bridge that connects people with differences, a bridge that leaves lasting impression of support. The receivers of the weighted blanket realize that people see them, that someone is willing to meet a need for them – it removes a burden, it carries a weight, it displays community. “Parents of children impacted by trauma often feel isolated and shunned by their communities. Though it may seem like a very small thing (making the blankets), it is a very big thing when parents feel loved and supported. I think the provision does good things for kids but the small blessing also allows parents to get back in the game,” Smith explains.
The church is showing up, and they are showing up in big ways via a small resource. Both Kelli Wild and Loryn Smith have deep gratitude for the blanket makers. Though the makers never visibly see the pay-off of their creation, their act of labor leaves long term blessings. They are forming a quiet village, a symbol of togetherness, a blanket of comfort, proving you don’t need to know someone to bless them.
- This article was written by Shelbi Hales. Read more about her and her work at her blog: Love Into Freedom