YOLA (Adamawa) – Excitement swept through the American University of Nigeria (AUN), Yola community on Friday, April 24, as 485 people ended 20 minutes of simultaneous crocheting.
The group needlework was an event sponsored by the institution’s student union, the Student Government Association, to sensitise residents of Yola, the Adamawa State capital and seat of AUN, about the hazards of non-biodegradable litter. It was also aimed at surpassing the current Guinness World Record held by Americans.
The GWR attempt was held inside AUN’s Commencement Hall, acknowledged as the largest indoor venue in Nigeria’s northeast. The crocheters used plastic yarn made from used shopping bags, since every nylon bag is reusable and renewable.
The “most people crocheting simultaneously” record, 426 people crocheting for 15 minutes, was achieved five years ago in New York City.
“We have yet to receive official notice from the Guinness World Record administrators who are based in the USA,” confirmed Jelena Zivkovic, the Director of the AUN Learning Resource Center. She coordinated the GWR committee.
Ms. Zivkovic read out the rules of the competition, urging the participants to adhere strictly to rules to avoid the AUN attempt being disqualified. The activity ended at exactly 20 minutes. There were external observers as witnesses.
An ecological twist to the event is the crocheters’ use of “plarn”, the yarn developed from used shopping bags. Community women making up Yola EcoSentials, a group of social entrepreneurs promoted by AUN, walked the participants through the process before the kickoff of the simultaneous crocheting. The event served to enlighten the community about the University’s ‘waste to wealth’ initiative.
“You can make money from it,” says Jennifer Che, Coordinator of Sustainability Outreach Programs& Laboratories.
Chief Information Officer, Mr. Julius Ayuk Tabe, representing the AUN President Margee Ensign at the kickoff, told participants, “In the light of negative news coming from the northeast, whenever the story of tenacity and togetherness is told, your achievement today will be a reference. This is what your sense of togetherness, teamwork, and can-do-it spirit has made possible today.”
The GWR attempt was an illustration of AUN’s sustainability programs and demonstrates commitment to challenging the status quo–getting AUN students involved in world events by promoting recycling and sustainability.
In Yola, the lack of a conventional waste collection system and bins/dumpsites is one of the main reasons residents dump their waste (including grocery bags), and then burn it, causing a major health hazard for humans and animals, including respiratory illnesses, gastric problems, and shortened life expectancy.
The University began a programme some years ago to address local unemployment and this environmental hazard. As a result, Yola women, under the auspices of YES, have made waste plastic (plarn) into colorful, eco-friendly accessories.
“It is our hope,” says Ms. Che, “that this event will raise awareness on how recycling our products, in this case, plarn, can keep the environment clean and healthy, but as well provide an income for the needy in the community.”
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