One of the main modes of the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) is through droplets in the air. It has also been found to be contagious through asymptomatic patients. These two worrisome findings led the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend that everyone must wear masks over their noses and mouths in public. Without masks, people affected by COVID-19 are likely to spread the disease even without coughing or sneezing. Data shows that mere breathing can transmit the virus into the air. But fabric masks might capture some of that. With an insufficient supply of medical-grade masks, it is recommended that these must be reserved for healthcare workers. The public was advised to look for cloth masks they could buy or make at home.
Considering the difficult times, the entire world finds itself in, with masks being one of the key remedies in containing the spread of COVID-19, the Apparel Training and Design Centre (ATDC) decided to organise mask-making competitions among students of various ATDC centres across India. This had a cascading effect amongst the students and faculties who not only participated in the competition but also took a step further to prepare masks at home and distribute them amongst the community, to help fight COVID-19. The students made masks under the following guidelines given by ATDC, NHO.
- A prototype mask sample was to be prepared entirely by the students;
- The mask was to have an innovative design;
- The salient features of the mask were to be explained;
- A small video of mask preparation was to be forwarded for competition;
- The students would be graded based on innovation, presentation, technical details, and the material used.
Forty-two ATDC hub centres across India and the skill camps attached to them participated in the competition. ATDC received submissions from around 124 students. The Principals and Regional Managers of these centres shortlisted the best entries at their end. All the students rose to the situation and came up with innovative solutions using the resources available to them at home since they were under lockdown. For innovation leaders, a time of crisis can be a real opportunity to create value and foster solutions to help the community. We discovered many innovation leaders who were ready to come out and not only create innovative masks but also distribute these masks among the needy in their neighbourhood.
Some students used sustainability as a guiding principle when preparing their masks while others gave more weight-age to using natural, herbal filtration techniques. Some students treated the fabric with natural bactericidal disinfectants such as neem leaves and others used engineering techniques to ensure ease in breathing while wearing the mask. The creativity of these students with limited resources proved that given a direction, the mind can come up with great solutions even in times of crisis.
The jury had the difficult task of selecting the best as all the videos were prepared with great enthusiasm and devotion. The mask-making competition proved to be great learning while also serving the community in this fight against COVID -19.
Some highlights of mask-making competitions from ATDC centres
Most of the ATDC centres guided students to prepare masks in bulk for distribution. Some highlights of the centres engaged in community distribution of masks and front-line fighters of COVID-19 are appended herewith –
ATDC, Bhopal used their skill camps at ATDC Bhopal, ATDC Ratlam, and ATDC Maheshwari to make 500 face masks at each centre and distributed them in the local areas to the needy migrant labourers. These face masks were made by students at their homes under the able guidance of ATDC trainers and distributed through local administration and police station.
ATDC, Faridabad had students from the North East who were stuck in the hostel due to the lockdown. These students constructively used their time by making masks for distribution. ATDC Faridabad has shown the contribution as a social responsibility by manufacturing more than 500 fabric masks each and distributed to police In-charge and the local people.
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ATDC, Udaipur made masks for distribution along with PPE gowns which were ordered by the local authorities to overcome the shortage. This was done at a nominal payment to the students by the local authorities. They stood up to the crisis to help the local authorities fight the Coronavirus.
ATDC, Jalpaiguri student Sri Khokan Roy produced 500 masks single-handedly for distribution in Haldibari Gram Panchayat and faculties distributed masks prepared by them for the police personnel who are the COVID-19 warriors.
ATDC recognises these innovative leaders contributing to ease out the COVID-19 situation. Their contribution may be like a drop in the ocean but needs to be applauded for the compassion and benevolence shown by ATDC students in the limited resources available to them.
Guest Author – Daljit Kaur, Registrar, ATDC