There’s a part of Rady Children’s Hospital where no one is afraid of needles and stitches.
“It works with patients. It works with children. It works with adults,” said Gaby Perez-Vargas talking about the knitting program she runs one day a week at the hospital.
Patients, parents and siblings sit, knit and talk.
“They start knitting, and they start laughing, and they start joking and they start, kind of being themselves. You see it immediately,” said Perez-Vargas.
For the families of patients, it’s a brief break from the treatment and conversations with doctors that can dominate their days.
Latoya Johnson said it’s therapeutic. Her daughter, Yuntasha, is battling cancer for the second time in a decade. This time, it’s a brain tumor. The family learned how to knit at the hospital and now they do it at home.
“It’s wonderful. I feel like I’m at peace,” she said. “You can be in your own little bubble and just relax."
There are numerous studies showing the health benefits of knitting.
“It lowers your blood pressure,” said Perez-Vargas. “Researchers, they call it yoga for the mind.”
She said last year alone, the program worked with about 800 patients and family members at the hospital. The program is run by the Emilio Nares foundation, which pays for all the yarn and keeps the program free.
Gaby Perez-Vargas has been helping run the program for a decade and said as long as there’s yarn, they’ll keep it going.
“This isn’t a job. This is a mission,” she said. “When they come to the program and talk to each other, it’s like a support group, without being a formal one.”