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TAF@Saghalie student sews masks for youth in need to combat COVID-19

 In #TAFSchools, TAF@Saghalie

While in-class instruction has come to a halt in response to COVID-19 and student learning for the foreseeable future has turned remote, an inspiring act of selflessness has surfaced. TAF@Saghalie Junior, Daniel Chung, is sewing face masks for youth in his local community to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and has offered to supply 100 masks to the City of Federal Way.

Initially, Daniel began gathering supplies to sew masks for his immediate family but as the scarcity of masks grew, he soon realized a greater need. Many people were having a hard time purchasing masks. Out of concern for the health of his community, he then decided to sew enough to donate to local groups.

“Getting the fabrics I used to make the masks was actually quite an adventure,” Daniel says. “All the craft stores were closed and online stores were completely out of elastic and unwoven fabrics except for Joann’s. Even there, they were only letting fifty people to shop-in store at a time, so there were lines that were at least a few storefronts long just to be able to go in.”

“I decided to do my part in our community, specifically for kids and teens, so they would have access to get the proper personal protective gear that they need.”

Daniel Chung, TAF@Saghalie Junior

In his letter, he also suggests that the masks be distributed to school meal program sites — locations where students with the most need would be more likely to receive them. 

Daniel learned to sew in TAF@Saghalie’s after-school engineering lab program during his freshman year. He is using the knowledge he gained to design his masks which are made of two layers —  one woven fabric and one unwoven filter fabric. 

In addition to making protective face masks, Daniel is keeping himself busy by applying for summer internships, college scholarships, and planning for college by working on essays and researching potential colleges. “I want to enter my Senior year running so that I have the best chance of getting into my dream colleges,” he shared.

Daniel Chung shows off a finished mask.
Daniel models his face masks.
Packaged face masks ready for delivery.

Daniel is also the TAF@Saghalie ASB Vice-President and while he is coping relatively well with remote-learning, he acknowledges the challenges many of his peers are facing. “Some of us live in home environments that are tough to do school-related learning in, with siblings, internet issues, technological issues, and more.” Yet, despite the challenges, he also reflects on his and others’ academic position. “As a TAF student, we’ve already been doing the bulk of our work online and with the use of Google Classroom. Since we already understand how online and mobile learning works, it has helped TAF students ease into the whole remote-learning experience.”

“I couldn’t ask for better teachers, because they’ve all reached out to me to help me succeed.”

Daniel Chung, TAF@Saghalie Junior

To stay connected, Daniel says he is also helping fellow juniors with their resumes and LinkedIn profiles and feels fortunate to receive daily calls and emails from TAF@Saghalie staff, and particularly his school counselor Ms. Benitez.

“I couldn’t ask for better teachers, because they’ve all reached out to me to help me succeed.”

Daniel is paying his learning forward. Although he isn’t sure how many more masks he will be able to produce using his current design, he is now researching ways to make other masks using coffee filters and other alternatives. He also plans to continue lending support to his peers where and when he can.

We are inspired to see how our students are finding ways to serve others — both for their school and for the larger communities. TAF encourages students to be active leaders in their communities. In fact, TAF’s annual school-wide STEM Expo challenges students to solve community and social challenges. Daniel is an example of how the STEMbyTAF model encourages leadership, problem-solving, and activism to make an impact in real-life.

TAF is participating in GiveBIG, May 5th-6th. Help us empower all students to take part in experiences that will prepare them to become leaders, innovators, and creators. Donate today: https://givebigwa.org/taf.

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