Kannapolis teen finds new talent during pandemic: making masks

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — Niya Kerr is not your average teenager.

The Kannapolis 16-year-old has made more than 1,000 masks while balancing her virtual schoolwork. She told Channel 9 the pandemic brought out the talent she never knew she had.

“You’re so used to going to school every day and for just everything to stop, you don’t know what to do anymore, sitting at home,” Kerr said. “I just had to find different ways to keep myself busy.”

Kerr said she wanted to get a job, so her mom suggested she learn how to sew and make masks. Her godmother quickly taught her how and in no time, Kerr was off and running.

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“She does it every day, and it’s just part of her routine,” Kerr’s mother, Erin Connor, said. “After she gets her schoolwork done, she makes masks. Sometime my phone will ding, and someone will say, ‘Can she make me 20 masks for later today?’ And she does.”

Kerr even made 140 masks for her teachers and at staff at A.L. Brown High School

“I’m doing (all virtual) so I don’t go to school, but I know all the teachers are and that puts them in danger of getting COVID,” Kerr said. “I thought if I give every teacher one, they can keep it for the whole week,” Kerr said. “If I can make their life easier, I’m happy to do it.”

Kerr explained that she’s thankful for the interest in her masks and plans to keep making them until the pandemic is over. But she also hopes people get the meaning behind her work.

“Just to think about others more,” Kerr said.

You can find Kerr’s masks at Lovely Lines boutique in Kannapolis or Tea for Two in China Grove. You can also find them online at her Instagram @niya.handmade.masks