Derrick, 17, a student at the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility, sat hooking strands of orange and green yarn around the pegs of a circular loom, the bottom of which held a couple feet of scarf that spilled out toward the floor.
Describing himself as a stressful person, he said the activity relaxes him. He said he worries about being locked up and about what's happening beyond the walls of the facility, the fences and the razor wire, or "the outs," as he refers to it.
"When I'm irritated on the unit, I get out my loom," he said. "When I just knit, I think, 'What am I stressing for?' It keeps you calm."
Derrick is one of currently 16 students in the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility's Purposeful Living Units Serve, or PLUS, program, who spend part of their required community service hours knitting. They knit hats and scarves for babies and adults along with baby blankets and baby buntings, all of which are donated to the Emmaus Mission Center. Students and staff say the activity benefits those outside the facility while contributing toward the ultimate goal of returning the juveniles to society.
The Rev. Dr. Connie Hedges, chaplain at the Logansport Juvenile Correctional Facility, said the knitting program had four looms when it started in 2012. By Christmas of that year, students had created a total of 25 items. In 2013, the program was able to acquire more looms and more supplies, leading to a total of 51 items at the end of the year. This year, there are 20 looms and Hedges predicts more than 100 items will be donated.
Students do their knitting in the PLUS program's day room, where they can also watch TV, use computers and play video and board games. A shelf in the room is filled with plastic tubs containing brightly colored balls of yarn, looms and partially completed projects.