by Julie McIntosh
ASSIGINACK—On Friday, children in Manitowaning sewed, hemmed and crafted intricate ‘fidget quilts’ in a bid to help members of the Island community who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The activity is part of a four-day summer camp experience and was organized by the Township of Assiginack in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society.
“It’s a chance for kids to do charity work and give back to the community,” said Jackie White, quilter and events co-ordinator with the township. Ms. White co-ordinated and assisted the children in crafting their designs through the week.
Fidget quilts are small blankets that offer tactile stimulation for people with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Those afflicted with the disease retain procedural memory—a memory where one is able to repeat physical actions easily.
The quilt is therefore ideal for those who have restless hands or who tend to wander is search of an activity to do.
“The fidget quilts provide an opportunity for the individual to put purpose to their movements,” said Megan Cairns, activity co-ordinator with the Alzheimer’s Society of Sudbury-Manitoulin. “It provides them with something meaningful to focus on.”
It also provides a unique opportunity for children on the Island to both learn new skills in sewing and provide for the community as a whole.
“I really, really like it,” said Sunday, nine years old, who was one of four participants in the camp. “I really like doing sewing.”
“That’s what we do,” said Ms. White, who is an avid quilter herself, reflecting on the fact that quilters enjoy creating, giving and supporting the community around them.
“It opens the doors up,” said Ms. White. “They could hem skirts, clothes, tote bags.”
During the week, camp participants warmed up to making their final projects by first sewing skirts and quilting pillows. Between projects, the kids spent their free time crafting small pillows for their toys.
“I made a unicorn pillow,” smiled Sunday. “It’s a pillow with unicorns on both sides.”
Ms. White hopes that the township can continue creating projects with the Alzheimer’s Society.
“We want more young people involved,” said Ms. White.
For more information about events this summer, visit the Township of Assiginack’s website at Assiginack.ca. To learn about the Alzheimer’s Society, visit Alzheimers.ca.