Each Wednesday and Thursday morning, in a cozy common room adorned with dreamcatchers, tapestries and other client-made artwork, Providence Care’s Community Connections Recovery Program hosts their weekly craft groups; The Nifty Knitters and The Hope and Discovery Artisans.
Led by the program’s Occupational Therapists Adriana Farcas and Ellie Lambert, the group was founded as a means of promoting empowerment and wellbeing through engagement in creative activities of choice. Over the years the group has evolved with the addition of Helene Rochow, a long-time client of the program, who now serves as a peer-coordinator. Rochow utilizes her artistic talents to lead the group in therapeutic knitting, or medi-knitting, which combines “meditation” and “knitting” for its healing and restorative benefits. Under her leadership, the group has embarked on an innovative and kind initiative, making and donating “Twiddle Muffs” to the Alzheimer Society of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington. If you’re not familiar with them, Twiddle Muffs are beautifully knit hand muffs fitted with buttons, ribbons and other accessories. These one of a kind muffs not only keep the user’s hands warm, but also provide a means of stimulation, which has been shown to decrease agitation and increase quality of life for those living with dementia.
Through her role as peer-coordinator, Rochow has developed her confidence and entrepreneurial skills, managing some of the groups’ projects and working with clients in the program. Now with growing demand for the group’s Twiddle Muffs, they are reaching out for additional support from our community. “When I heard there were 900 families affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s in our community, I knew this was a mission I wanted to accept” said Rochow, who was first approached by Sharon Lewis from the Alzheimer Society of KFL&A at the annual Community Services Fair.
Rochow, a local artisan and instructor, attends the annual fair at the Portsmouth Olympic Harbour to sell her knitwear and Mandala cards and has helped to organize the craft group at CCRP. “Working together has been wonderful for our clients and serves as a vehicle for group discussion, empowerment and leadership” said Lambert.
With over 80 Twiddle Muffs donated and counting, Rochow also has other projects on the horizon for the group. One project they’re exploring is recycling plastic bags into mattresses for homeless in the region. Rochow proudly displayed the prototype, a beautiful combination of various coloured bags, crocheted together to form a 3’ x 6’ waterproof mattress. The project is challenging and labour intensive, requiring 500 bags per mattress and considerable strength to work with the materials, but is an endeavor the group feels strongly about. They plan to start the project slowly over the coming months with the goal of being able to deliver their first mattresses in time for the winter season. Once the mattresses are complete, the group plans to donate them to In From The Cold, an emergency shelter located across the street.
If you are interested in donating art supplies for the Community Connection Recovery Program’s Twiddle Muff or Green Mattress projects, please contact Ellie Lambert 613-540-6165 ext. 4401.