Handmade gifts bridge the generations

MAU students make fidget quilts for local memory care residents

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BENNINGTON — For some local students, this holiday season is a time to practice a skill and give back at the same time.

Sewing group students in the Mosaic program at Mount Anthony Union Middle School made seven fidget quilts, designed to help those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease, and delivered them to the Brookdale Fillmore Pond memory care program on Monday.

About 15 residents of Clare Bridge, the memory care unit, heard from Linda Flederbach, a substitute teacher who participates in the sewing group program, as she described the students' efforts to make the quilts. That work took about three weeks.

11-year-old Nolan Reese described making the quilts as "fun, fun, fun."

He decided what to put on the quilt he made, coming up buttons and key rings.

"There are some things on there that I hope other people can enjoy," said Charles Watson, a seventh-grader at MAUMS, of his quilt. He added two steel hooks to his quilt.

The students held up their quilts for view, and passed them out to the gathered residents.

Around five to seven students participated in the project, but only three could attend to present the quilts, Flederbach said.

The effort is about "bridging the generations," and allowing youth to see the value that seniors hold in the community, said Noreen Gardner, director of marketing and relationship development for At Home Senior Care.

At Home Senior Care organizers led the fidget quilt project effort, choosing Fillmore Pond because they work with the organization frequently.

Gardner said she reached out to Amy Volpi, Mosaic director at MAUMS, and asked her if she would consider such an effort with her students.

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Once the project was set up, the owner of At Home Senior Care, Melissa Morrison, presented the project to the students, "and they took off with it from there," Gardner said.

Fidget quilts are often used for those with Alzheimer's disease or dementia, and have features that can be manipulated, like buttons or velcro. They're small, fitting on a person's lap.

"Depending on the resident, it could be made specific for them," said Laura Peer, memory care program coordinator at Brookdale Fillmore Pond. "Say it's a male resident that used to be like a locksmith — you could put like a key on there. Basically, different items sewn on a small quilt that residents can fidget with, and keep their mind stimulated."

"With dementia, it's really important to keep their mind active," she said. "And this is just one form to keep their mind stimulated and active and engaged."

Jennifer Hill, sales manager at Brookdale Fillmore Pond, said the quilts are a tool, to be used in times like those between activities.

"There are going to be times in between that where having a quilt, something to fidget with where it can be beneficial," she said. "It's another benefit."

Hill said Gardner spearheaded the project, but the organization is always looking for intergenerational programs.

"As a way to kind of bring the gap of children and seniors together, which is always great," she said.

Brookdale Fillmore Pond has some fidget quilts, and it's always beneficial to have more, Hill said.

"We have 24 residents on our memory care program," she said. "We certainly don't have 24 quilts."

Patricia LeBoeuf can be reached at pleboeuf@benningtonbanner.com, at @BAN_pleboeuf on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 118.


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