February 9, 2006
Tifton -- It's not your imagination. The popularity of video games continues to increase from year-to- year. An industry study in 2005 estimates that three fourths of us play some kind of video game, with the average age of players rising from pre-teen to 30 years of age now.
The video game craze knows no age limit. All you need are fast fingers and fast eyes and time on your hands.
Ella Marchant has all three, a grandma-playing video game lover, who enjoys pressing the buttons two hours a day. "I enjoy it anytime," says Ella, sitting in a recliner playing Dr. Mario to relax mentally.
"My hands stay busy to stay out of trouble," says Ella, somewhat tongue-in-cheek. Those same fingers that eagerly press buttons on a game controller teach nine-and-ten-year-olds a centuries old style of sewing known as embroidery.
"Who's next?" asks Ella, as four students stand around her to ask questions. "See here baby," says Ella to a young boy who has difficulty tieing a string after sewing part of a fence scene.
Ella Marchant is an encouraging teacher who donates her time every Friday, and insists on them making their own decisions. "It's your choice, not mine," says Ella in a kindly tone of voice about the color of thread to use. "You know how to start here?" asks Ella.
"Yes, ma'am," says the student about beginning a new section Ella Marchant considers every child her grandchild. "All I've ever met have been grandchildren to me," says Ella, a role model 80 years young, who seems to love every minute of it.
Ella frequently includes gentle words of encouragement spoken quietly to one of her students. "You're doing a good job on that tree," says Ella to a young girl. She takes advantage of teachable moments to pass along bits of worldly wisdom she learned in the school of hard knocks.
"Granny doesn't get mad. Don't do any good to get mad. It just makes you feel bad," says Ella to a student who thinks the teacher got mad about breaking thread. The young people love their time with her.
"It's fun to me," says Summer Bennett, as she pulls a brown thread through her creation. "Like painting with thread," says Sky Moore.
Ella Marchant finds a little kindness goes a long way for a long time. "Children will never forget if you're good to them and kind to them," says Ella.
The idea of teaching her students how to embroider was the brain child of their teacher, Jerrelle Baker, who sees positive changes. "Following directions and listening.
They can't get too much of that," says Ms. Baker And Ella Marchant can't get enough of them, either. "More pleasure than you can imagine," says Ella as she finishes a class.
"Good-bye Granny!" shouts the students as she leaves.
Besides teaching embroidery and playing video games, Ella Marchant makes dozens of pillows and scarves but never sells them. She gets a lot of joy out of giving them away.