The Sleeping Mat Project is an initiative launched by Integrate for Good, an organization founded by Temple alum, Dr. Bev Weinberg. Volunteers get together to weave plastic bags into sleeping mats for unhoused people, repurposing a harmful pollutant to better the lives of those in need.
“We bring people of all abilities together to lead and volunteer so there’s that inclusion piece and then also the mats end up going out to people experiencing homelessness in our shared community,” said Dr. Bev Weinberg.
Dr. Weinberg previously partnered with four other universities to create sleeping mats with repurposed bags, but she wanted to bring the project to her alma mater.
She enlisted Dr. Dominique Kliger to spearhead Temple’s involvement with the project. Dr. Kliger is a professor at the College of Science and Technology. She gathered volunteers and sponsorship from Dr. Theresa Powell of the Student Affairs department.
Students volunteer to make “plarn,” a yarn ball made from plastic.
“They created the Temple “T,” and they loop it together and they keep looping one into another into another,” said Dr. Dominique Kliger.
Students put in 12 to 14 hours of hands-on work throughout the fall semester, they used a wooden loom to weave over 800 plastic bags into a lightweight, washable, and ready-to-use sleeping mat.
The project has already had a lasting impact on those who have received the plastic mats. “People that had received those mats, when they get out of living on the streets, get a job, they have been putting these mats on their walls to remind them of the kindness when they were at their lowest point,” said Dr. Kliger.
Dr. Kliger plans to continue the partnership between Integrate for Good and Temple University into the spring semester and for many years to come.