Suburban children often have a plethora of activities available to them during the summer. There is the beach, the pool, sports camp, drama camp, dance camp...the camp choices are endless, yet four 10 year-old girls chose to spend each Wednesday this summer indoors at Ann Seccia's house in Malverne.
What is it that's so intriguing that it's worth the sacrifice of several beautiful summer days?
Yes, quilts. For years Seccia has had a love of creating quilts and has honed her sewing skills. Two years ago, after speaking to a Brownie troop in Garden City, she was asked to give quilting lessons, which she happily did. Over six meetings, the girls made two quilts, which were donated to Sloan-Kettering Hospital.
Four of the girls continued to meet at Seccia's house and they produced two more quilts, which were also donated to Sloan-Kettering, where one of their mothers is a nurse.
Starting last month, three of the original group members plus one new rescruit began meeting at Seccia's house each Wednesday for more lessons. They are Emily Falco, of Franklin Square, Mary Keane, of Garden City, Clare Owens, of Stewart Manor, and Zara Figliozzi, of Lynbrook, who will all be entering fifth grade at St. Anne's School in Garden City next month. Each girl is making a Christmas-themed table runner.
While the goal is to make a functioning table runner, the group is about much more than sewing. There's a social aspect to all this stitching. The girls enjoy working together.
They are also learning patience. Each stitch, done by hand, is slow and calculated and cannot be rushed. (Rushed stitches result in bloody fingertips.)
"I try not to go too fast, because if I go too fast I might mess up on something that I don't even see. I just want to concentrate and really focus so I don't screw up anything," Falco said.
Words such as "concentrate" and "focus" aren't often associated with children today.
"I think that they're gaining an appreciation for the work that goes into a nice, finished product," Seccia said.
She likes to keep the group small so she can give each child the attention she needs to complete a successful project. She charges a nominal fee to cover supplies.
Each girl in the group has at least one other interest in addition to sewing. Figliozzi has been taking dance lessons since she was three, Owens enjoys traditional Irish dance classes and Keane studies art and attended choir camp.
"I've experienced dancing, I've experienced sewing and I've experienced gymnastics and I think that all comes together... something I can do when I grow up," Falco said.
During the course of the two-hour lesson, Seccia schedules in a snack (sometimes cheese and crackers) and some dance time.
She plans to continue these summer lessons next year.