Seattle's Child

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boy displaying handmade quilt

(Photo courtesy of Candice Leonard_

Seattle teen taking his COVID quilt on the road, in the name of unity

En route to CDC in Atlanta, he hopes to visit every state.

During the early phases of COVID-19, William Stich-Smith wanted to find a way to keep busy, especially since his classes and part-time job had seemingly disappeared.

His mom, Candice Leonard, has a background in embroidery design, and he decided to learn something new and document what was happening as the coronavirus crisis grew into a global pandemic.

After he had created 24 coronavirus-theme blocks on a computer, he realized he had enough to make a big block-set quilt that chronicles the disease history we’ve all been living through since before spring. He soon made a second, and recently learned — in a personal hand-signed thank-you note from Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — that the quilt has been accepted to go on display at CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

“It was absolutely amazing to get the letter from the director of the CDC,” said Stich-Smith, who is planning to deliver the quilt in late July.

Using art, sewing and computer skills, he created digitized pieces that mark the pandemic from the earliest, most uncertain parts of the outbreak.

“The design is all stuff that would relate to the coronavirus and the coronavirus pandemic, so there’s a mask in one, there’s, ‘I survived the toilet paper apocalypse,’” said a laughing Stich-Smith, who just finished his junior year remotely at Garfield High School in Seattle.

The quilts break down a lot of what we’ve done during the pandemic, with squares dedicated to hand-washing and stay-at-home orders and social distancing, too.

He has created a website and a GoFundMe page to help with his goal of touring the U.S. — and later the world — with one of the quilts to promote unity and commemorate the strange time we’ve been living through.

His plan is first to travel around the nation with his creation, to be displayed and stamped officially in every state capital in the U.S. He has a GoFundMe dedicated to the cause and had raised a little more than $2,000 to fund his journey as of press time. He hopes to take the quilt to every state — and, eventually, the rest of the world.

But like many, many students in Washington, Stich-Smith has still been missing being in real classes with real-life students this year, and is hoping for more normalcy with school as soon as possible.

“Yeah, it’s pretty stressful,” he said. “I can strongly say … I really don’t like online school.”

To see where Stich-Smith is planning to go this summer before school starts, check the project website here.

Here is the Go Fund Me page for contributions to the project and the tour.

To see videos of the project, go to the Green Roof Farms DIY YouTube channel.

About the Author

Jillian O'Connor

Jillian O’Connor lives in Seattle with her husband, two sons and a dog named after the Loch Ness Monster.