Warm heads and hearts

Free­dom grad passes out knit caps in anti-bul­ly­ing cam­paign

The Morning Call - - FRONT PAGE - By Jacqueline Palochko

The blue knit hats that all Done­gan Ele­men­tary stu­dents tugged onto their heads and pulled over their ears Mon­day had a spe­cial mean­ing.

“When you wear th­ese blue hats, you’re tak­ing a stand against bul­ly­ing,” Louis Bo­ria told the 500 stu­dents, who ranged from preschool to fifth grade.

A New York City-based ur­ban knitwear de­signer, Bo­ria vis­ited Done­gan and Broughal Mid­dle School to hand out the blue hats, some with pink sparkles and oth­ers with pom-poms at the top, as part of a #HatNotHate na­tional anti-bul­ly­ing cam­paign. Bo­ria of­ten vis­its schools to pro­mote the mes­sage of di­ver­sity and break­ing stereo­types, such as the one that knit­ting is for older women.

A 1994 Free­dom High grad­u­ate, Bo­ria started knit­ting af­ter a vivid dream years ago of him­self per­form­ing the craft. He taught him­self to knit us­ing YouTube videos and now owns the com­pany Brook­lyn Boy Knits. A few years ago, he went vi­ral af­ter Broad­way per­former Frenchie Davis took a photo of him knit­ting on a sub­way train. So Bo­ria de­cided he wanted to give back to schools and started work­ing

with the #HatNotHate cam­paign.

Bo­ria, who at­tended Broughal as a mid­dle schooler, teamed up with Joanne Tur­cotte, owner of the Knit­ter’s Edge yarn shop in Beth­le­hem, to dis­trib­ute 1,400 hats made by his crew as well as vol­un­teers to the two schools Mon­day.

Na­tion­wide, the #HatNotHate cam­paign hopes to dis­trib­ute 25,000 blue knit hats to schools. Blue was cho­sen be­cause the color rep­re­sents peace and sol­i­dar­ity.

“To come back to my home­town and of­fer stu­dents a pos­i­tive mes­sage is so im­por­tant,” Bo­ria said.

Bo­ria’s mes­sage was re­ceived by fourth grader Daniel Rivera, who wore a blue hat — his fa­vorite color — over his ears.

“I think it’s won­der­ful to tell peo­ple not to bully,” said 10-year-old Daniel.

With Oc­to­ber des­ig­nated as Na­tional Bul­ly­ing Pre­ven­tion Month and Mon­day seen as World Day of Bul­ly­ing Pre­ven­tion, it was the per­fect time for Bo­ria’s mes­sage, As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Daniel Gar­cia said. Dur­ing Oc­to­ber, stu­dents are en­cour­aged to wear the hats as much as pos­si­ble.

“This serves as a vis­ual that we’re all united in this,” Gar­cia said. “It’s all our job to pro­mote love and de­crease hate.”

Third grader Alex Tor­resS­mal­ley knew that he and his class­mates were send­ing a mes­sage to stop bul­ly­ing by wear­ing the blue hats.

But the hats also had an­other pur­pose, said 8-year-old Alex.

“It’s warm,” Alex said. “I’m def­i­nitely go­ing to be us­ing it for win­ter.”

PHO­TOS BY APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL

Kinder­gart­ner Mekenly Young re­acts to his new hat. Done­gan Ele­men­tary School stu­dents re­ceived knit­ted #HatNotHate cam­paign hats Mon­day from vol­un­teers from the Knit­ter's Edge yarn shop in Beth­le­hem.

Louis Bo­ria, a for­mer Done­gan stu­dent and cur­rent fiber artist who is the founder and cre­ator of Brook­lyn Boy Knits in New York City, teamed up with the owner of the Knit­ter's Edge yarn shop, Joanne Tur­cotte, and vol­un­teers to give away hats to the stu­dents.

APRIL GAMIZ/THE MORN­ING CALL

Sec­ond grader Sophia Gon­za­les re­acts with her class­mates to their new hats from the #HatNotHate cam­paign Mon­day at Done­gan Ele­men­tary School.

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