Updated Fri, Aug 1, 2014 10:22 am
The Gathering Place — a drop-in center for adults focusing on mental health wellness in Athens — is asking for the community’s help in shattering a Guinness record to create the world’s largest yarn pom-pom this month.
While participating in a local Honey for the Heart art collaboration, several of the yarn pom-poms were made for decorations, according to The Gathering Place’s Resource and Development Director Ginger Schmalenberg. She said a member asked how big the world’s largest pom-pom was. That sparked the idea to do some research and to see if that record could be shattered.
According to Schmalenberg, the world record was set in 2010 with a pom-pom that measured 4 feet tall, 10 feet and 8 inches in diameter and weighing 36 pounds. She said she spoke to several community members, including engineers at Ohio University, about how to make a larger pom-pom.
Utilizing a wooden frame yarn swift, The Gathering Place has its eye set on creating a yarn pom-pom at least 5 foot tall, 12 feet in diameter, weighing 50 pounds. Approximately 50,000 yards of yarn will be used in the process.
To celebrate The Gathering Place’s anniversary on Aug. 9, the group will set up the yarn swift at The Market on State beginning at 10 a.m. to break the pom-pom record. But Schmalenberg said that it will require more than The Gathering Place’s members and staff to get the job done. She said attendees at the event will be asked to participate in problem solving and actively take part in making the pom-pom and tying it together.
In order to have the yarn pom-pom be recognized by the Guinness World Records, she said the event will be recorded and there need to be at least two eyewitnesses who are not affiliated with The Gathering Place.
During the pom-pom making, there will also be music from The Gathering Place band, other musical guests, plus information about organizations and businesses that support mental health wellness in the community. Attendees can also make their own small pom-poms to be displayed on a community piece of art, which will be displayed alongside the large pom-pom at the Fiber Fair in October. The Fiber Fair will be held at ARTS/West and is collaboration between Athens Local Professional Artists and Craftsmen Association (ALPACA) and other artists. Some yarn will be provided for the smaller pom-poms, but Schmalenberg said participants are encouraged to bring their own yarn as well.
The Gathering Place was established in 1973 at 7 N. Congress St. as a place for those with and without mental illness to gather. Members receive peer support, information about nutrition and wellness and other resources in a home-like environment. Schmalenberg said that the staff at The Gathering Place believe that art and music contribute to mental health wellness as a form of therapy.
The pom-pom making event will also serve as a venue to raise awareness and advocacy regarding mental health wellness in the community, Schmalenberg said.
“Mental health affects us all,” she said. “Art brings people together and will help break the stigma of mental illness.”
Schmalenberg encourages civic groups and other organizations to help create the giant pom-pom, as those who help will have their name submitted to Guinness World Records.