Wonderfully Weighted


Julianne Ash

Attending the informational meeting for the Weighted Wonders Communitry Giving Campaign, junior Aleena Ajani, founder of Weighted Wonders Johny Mahler, junior Sarah Lalani, and junior Will Ash plan to lead this project for the local chapter.

Soft, but strong. Gentle, yet burdened with a pressure that is as reassuring as a kiss to the brow. A weighted blanket is both of these things and more, especially when given from one person to another. This is the principle of Weighted Wonders, a principle of connection, and the desire to be a positive force in the lives of others.


“[Weighted Blankets] have an impact on kids’ lives,” the founder of the organization, Johnny Mahler said.


Weighted Wonders is a volunteer organization working with Klein Oak’s chapter of DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) to make weighted blankets as a part of DECA’s Community Giving Project. 


Donated fabrics are sewn in with soft fleece and a small pocket of mass that provide the quilt-like cover with a heaviness that gives it therapeutic qualities. When using it, the steady force is reassuring to the user and promotes a sense of calm and safety. 


But a significant issue for parents comes from the price of the weighted blankets. They can range from $70 to $600, which can easily break a wallet. 


But that’s when Weighted Wonders swoops in to save the day. They custom make them, with donated fabrics and volunteers to create them, in order to provide them free of charge to these children and their parents. And these volunteer-made weighted blankets still reap the same benefits at the store-bought ones.


“I get letters every week from parents who are thrilled [with] the results,” Mahler said.


Klein Oak’s Chapter of DECA will be pioneer this program for high schools.


“Usually the people who reach out to me are sewing groups looking for a service project or church organizations, and occasionally girl scout troops,” Mahler said. “Klein Oak is the first high school I’ve worked with.”


Juniors Alena Ajani, Sarah Lalani, and William Ash are the students who are leading the Community Giving Project, and with it, Weighted Wonders.


“Our hope is to make difference in our community, and hopefully make an impact with the help of our school,” Ajani said.  


With this partnership, DECA will be making and providing weighting blankets, specifically lap pads (smaller blankets for laps) to students from elementary age to middle school age, within the Klein ISD District. 


“Our plan for the year is to basically make weight blankets, specifically weighted lap pads, for students that have disabilities, such as autism, students who have been through traumas, or students who have extreme anxieties or stress, ” Ajani said.


To help create the lap-pads, kits will be available for students. There will be options to do these kits with DECA on assigned days, with planned movies, snacks and fun, or to take the lap pad kit home and return it when completed.


 “We can get the chapter involved by having work days to make the [lap pad] kits and the blankets,” Lalani said. “Since [Klein ISD] has a program were the high schoolers in the special education department can go and help the younger kids, like in middle schools, or elementary schools, we were also hoping this could be something that could connect them better. This [program] could help the special education children coming to Klein Oak feel more welcome, and [help] make a connection with them.”


DECA is also looking for people who can sew together the finished kits to make the final product of the lap pad. 


Even if students are not involved in DECA, they are encouraged to get involved. Participating in this event can event contribute to volunteer hours.


“Each student would have to speak with their [service organization’s] advisers,” Julianne Ash, the adviser of Klein Oak’s Chapter of DECA said, “My understanding is that it would qualify for both NHS [service] hours as well as IB CAS hours.” 


It’s also a great opportunity just to be a part of something that will give back to the community. 


“Anyone can get involved,” Mahler said. “It’s a way you can make an impact.”


The organization itself also has origins with making these blankets specifically for people in need of them.


“I was the leader of a girl scout troop when my daughter was in kindergarten,” Mahler said. “One of the moms, who was actually a grandmother raising her grandchildren, needed a weighted blanked for her autistic grandchild. She saw that I was doing hand sewing with the girls in the troop, and asked ‘Could you make me a weighted blanket? I can’t afford one.’ Back then, they weren’t as common, so they could be a couple hundred dollars.”


Mahler had seen firsthand how weighted blankets have changed lives. 


 “I could talk all day about [the weighted blankets] I get emails every week from people with stories staying things like, ‘my child used to melt down at bedtime, and now they can sleep more than 6 hours’,”  Mahler said. “One of the stories that seems very simple, but I guess is very profound, is a family who had never taken their child to a restaurant because he couldn’t handle the environment. With his weighted blanket around him, though, his entire family got to go out to eat with him. To [his mother], that was an amazing gift.”


These weighted lap pads will have an impact not just on Klein Oak or Klein ISD, but – mostly importantly – on the individual children who will use a weighted blanket, created just for them, from students who genuinely want to help.


“It’s a way that you can actually make an impact,” Mahler said. “You can’t do everything for everyone, but you can do something for someone.”