Rockway’s umbrellas are given new life

February 8, 2023 | Focus On Education | Volume 27 Issue 3
Rockway Mennonite Collegiate
Kitchener, Ont.
Before and after. Rockway has been able to repurpose 103 broken umbrellas. (Photo by Jen Hoffman-Bailey)

What do you do with 103 broken umbrellas? You make something new, of course!

After Rockway Mennonite Collegiate’s crazy “Someone to You” video project, the school found itself with a challenge. The all-school video created during the pandemic was an important project for building community that involved 350 umbrellas. But, as predicted, a number of the beautiful red umbrellas were damaged through the countless openings and closings required to capture the film.

“We certainly didn’t want them going straight to the landfill,” says Sara Wahl, computer department head and director of the project, “so we got creative!” Through the ingenuity of lead “seamstress” Laurie Yantzi, assistant to the principal, Wahl and Yantzi devised a plan to sew the broken umbrellas into a bunch of new items.

Each umbrella makes one draw-string backpack, two flags for their athletics department, and four streamer flags that Rockway plans to use at special events. “All that’s left over when we’re done is a remnant smaller than a ruler! It’s amazing.”

Rockway has hosted several “sewing parties” to transform the umbrellas and have some fun along the way. Students helped with the dismantlement, and several faculty and staff members have come out of retirement to help with the recycling efforts.

“Even the metal was repurposed,” explains Wahl. “The metal springs inside went to our Robotics program, and the rest of the handle was recycled as scrap. It was a beautiful ending to an already beautiful project.”

Want to join in? If you love to iron, cut, or sew and live in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, Rockway is looking for volunteers to help complete the transformation! Contact to learn how you can be involved. 

To see the video and its story, go to

Before and after. Rockway has been able to repurpose 103 broken umbrellas. (Photo by Jen Hoffman-Bailey)

These weather-proof backpacks were sewn from Rockway’s repurposed umbrellas. (Photo by Sara Wahl)

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