The Airdrie Young At Heart club is looking for donations of wool, yarn and other materials to help them make “twiddle” lap blankets for those looking for some comfort and warmth in the community.
Not only does the Airdrie Young At Heart group provide the crocheted and knitted blankets to help Airdrie’s homeless through the Mustard Seed, it also works with local groups like Airdrie Community Links and the Airdrie Community Care Centre to provide the twiddles to those suffering with Alzheimer's or dementia.
“In the beginning, we took this on as a project for dementia and Alzheimer’s residents at the new care home, Airdrie Community Care at Market Boulevard,” said Airdrie Young At Heart founder and president Audrey Borland. “We have now delivered 48 of those for their Memory Unit.”
Borland explained that twiddles are crocheted lap blankets with different adornments sewed onto them, which allow the user to tug and grasp at them for the purposes of sensory therapy.
“The function of it is to keep the fingers and their hands occupied because a lot of the time people with dementia and Alzheimer's are fidgety,” she said. “They need something to do with their hands.”
Not only does the group provide the twiddles to organizations, but also to those in the community suffering with dementia or Alzheimer’s at home, either through Community Links or when contacted directly by families in the community who want one.
“Again, anyone who has a family member that they feel could utilize one of lap blankets; all they have to do is get in touch and we will provide a single blanket for someone,” said Borland.
Recently, Airdrie Young At Heart expanded the reach of its twiddle program to also provide blankets for younger kids who are suffering with mental health issues at the Summit Centre in Calgary, or for kids in the community who might be diagnosed with autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
“When it comes to them being used for children,” she said. “Again, children can have great difficulty in concentrating when they are on the autism spectrum, or have ADD or ADHD. So if they have something in the lap that again keeps their hands or occupied, they can be inclined to listen more intently.”
The group also provided twiddles to the Linus Project for children suffering with severe illness or trauma, and for youth and kids in BGC Airdrie who might benefit from having one.
Borland stressed that Airdrie Young At Heart as an organization isn’t primarily dedicated to the making and donating of twiddles. It’s really just 23 of its 86 members that choose to work on them.
According to Borland, the primary purpose of the group is social, with individuals over the age of 50 getting together for monthly lunch meetings and taking part in various other community events together.
“(Young At Heart) is not all about charity,” she confirmed, “but we're very proud of the fact that we now have the people who are are willing within the group who (are) willing to donate their time.”
However, since the twiddles are a passion project for those within the club who choose to make them, and since the group is a non-profit group, Borland said donations of yarn, wool and other materials are always welcome.
“You don't have to go and and buy a ball of yarn,” she said. “If you have pieces of yarn lying around that you're not gonna use, or if you have a box of buttons, beads, etc. that you're not going to use– absolutely Airdrie Young at Heart can utilize these to donate back into the community.”
Borland said gift cards from stores like Walmart or Dollarama, which sell the materials they use to make their twiddles, are also another way to donate for those who are interested in doing so.
For more information on Airdrie Young At Heart, its twiddle-making programs, or any other inquiries email [email protected].