Sussex Student Sews to Soaring Heights
Lily Miller is one inspiring 9-year-old. She’s the creator of Lily’s Lovebirds, a craft fundraising project that began two years ago to benefit the All-Abilities Playground in Missoula. Since then, Lily’s Lovebirds has ballooned in popularity. Lily was inspired to continue her fundraising efforts following the smash success of her first shot at Lovebirds, along with reading Malala Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala. Proceeds now go to the Power of 5 Conscious Connections Foundation and the Malala Fund. Lily’s Lovebirds are so well-liked, they’re on back order! Check them out at LilysLovebirds.com.
I met up with Lily after class at the Sussex School, where she attends fourth grade. She was playing outside in one of her favorite spots—the ditch alongside the school. She came inside wind-blown, looking lit from within. I was struck by her thoughtful answers and poise beyond her years. We had the following conversation.
Tell me about the process of making the lovebirds.
First, we cut the patterns, then they get sewn, then turned inside out. My sister and I stuff them, and then they get tails put on.
What’s it like working together with your mom and sister?
Fun, we talk about what we did at school and make plans for summer trips while we work.
Where do you get the fabric?
It’s donated, and we use scraps leftover from other projects.
I read that you were inspired by Malala’s memoir. Who are other girls or women who inspire you?
Denise Atwood at Conscious Connections who runs the program we send money to, in Nepal. The money right now is going to build the school and houses the girls will live in and go to. It’d be really fun to go visit the school once it’s built.
Where did you get the idea for birds in particular?
We were doing a craft fair to raise money for the all-abilities playground, and I just like birds and animals. Birds were easier to sew than other animals.
What do you want to do when you grow up?
I don’t know yet. My favorite subjects in school are math and art.
How do you want people to feel when they see your lovebirds?
Happy, and to feel like they can make a difference too.
Do you feel like you’re making a difference?
Yes. Other kids and friends have started to help with the project. Classes are helping and working on making lovebirds before and after school.
(Lily’s mom Terry asked that people who are interested in making Lovebirds contact them and they will send the pattern, so that other groups can share in the endeavor. They have had schools from across the country reach out.)
If you could bring kids who have never been to school here to Sussex, what would you be most excited to show them?
The ditch! It’s fun to play tag and jump over the ditch. It’s pretty big so you have to get used to it. I like playing outside.
What would you be excited to show them about what you’re learning?
Art. I like drawing and making 3-D art.
You talk (on your website) about wanting to do something for girls your age. What do you think is special about girls your age that grown-ups forget?
We are happy to be taught. We also like meeting other girls.
What’s up next for Lily’s Lovebirds?
I want to make lovebird eggs and nests.