From the classroom to the community: Fidget Mats for Alzheimer Patients

Strewn about the classroom, colorful fabric squares that offer a plethora of activities, are being worked on by diligent teams of students. “[These fidget mats] provide a way for the elderly, who are suffering from Alzheimer’s, to keep themselves occupied in a fun and unique way,” explains Tori Heavey, the Vice President of Family Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).

FCCLA is a club and a set of elective coursework at Houston High School. Offerings focus on topics such as nutrition, family studies, lifespan development, and fashion design. In the fashion design class, taught by Andra Davis, students were given the opportunity to construct the fidget mats for Paige Robbins, a local adult day care center. Heavey, a senior in Davis’s fashion design class, describes the mats as “squares of textured fabric sewn together with items such as zippers, buttons, and even stuffed animals sewn on top of the quilt.” The textured squares that were given to Paige Robbins provide the elderly with something to “fidget” with. Heavey describes this project as one of her favorites all year, “benefitting the community to better represent Houston and FCCLA.”

The class worked on the fidget mats in groups for about two weeks, making sure everything was suitable to meet the patients’ needs. Since the class is small, Heavey describes the project as a “sewing circle”, where all the students work together and share ideas to help another.

Every year, FCCLA sends several standout students to the regional STAR event competition. This competition, with numerous different categories, cultivates leadership throughout the chapter. The competitors work for months in advance to assemble the necessary information for their project. The district competition is held in January, then the top two contenders from each event move on to the state competition. Houston had ten students compete at the district competition, and six outstanding students who moved on to the state competition in Chattanooga. Heavey and Davis have high hopes that their fidget mats could possibly make it to the competition next year.
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