By Lisa Petrillo

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A Miami high school student, who’s also a National YoungArts winner for fashion design, is using her design ingenuity to help those in the medical community and others protect themselves against the coronavirus.

Sixteen-year-old Ariel Swedroe, who attends Design Architecture Senior High School or DASH, has wanted to be a fashion designer since the age of 7.

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Now she’s using her sewing skills to make protective masks to help fight the spread of the coronavirus.

The idea came to her when she was worried about her grandparents.

“My grandfather had to go to the bank and I didn’t want him going without a mask. So I said wait let me try to make you a mask. So I sewed him a mask with his fabric and he loved it,” she said.

Her grandmother got one as well.

Ariel soon realized her masks could help hospitals and others who are most at risk. Since then she and her mentor have been sewing non-stop at DesignLab in Miami, a studio that teaches people how to sew.

Some are made from linen bedsheets and pillowcases. Others from polypropylene, a fabric that’s used in surgical masks. The fashion designer in her made some of them glam with sequins.

She posted a how-to video on her Instagram. The response from students has been incredible.

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“We created a pattern, a simple pattern, for people to print out and copy,” said Ariel.

It’s not, obviously, a certified COVID-19 mask nor a medical-grade mask but it’s the closest you can get.

“Even if the masks aren’t used to treat people with corona, we can give the masks tor doctors to treat other people because they are running low on the COVID masks,” she said.

So far, she’s made about 200 masks with a goal of one thousand.

“That’s a lot for two people but because we have so much support of people on Instagram, people are coming to pick up fabric and go home to sew,” said Ariel.

So how does she feel about all the support she’s gotten?

“This obviously makes me feel amazing and I know a lot of people are bored and feel helpless and to have something I can do means a lot. It’s been amazing and I’m really happy,” she said.

Mount Sinai Hospital is picking up masks on Monday and the Publix pharmacy in Surfside will receive 50 masks that they can freely give to the elderly who are picking up prescriptions.

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Anyone interested can check out her masks at swedroebyAriel on Instagram.

Lisa Petrillo