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By Michael Doran

Seville friends Fran Snowdon and Glenys Hopes decided to do something for their community in 2015, and started making fiddle rugs.

“I started knitting a blanket for my granddaughter who is living with multiple disabilities,” Fran said.

“I called it her fiddle rug and the name has stuck since then.

“Things like fiddle rugs are used to maintain or teach skills, to calm and distract, soothe frustration or to just keep hands busy.

“Sometimes it can be as simple as having something tactile in the pocket to squeeze that prevents a full melt down in an anxiety attack.”

Sensory or diversion therapy is used for patients living with conditions like dementia, autism, Alzheimer’s, stroke and mental health issues and those in hospitals and nursing homes.

Sensory aids come in all shapes and sizes such as fidget cushions, activity mats, memory mats and fiddle rugs.

As an example, memory mats are made by attaching ribbons, buttons, zippers, shoe-laces and other items to provide activity for patients.

“It gives people something they can hold, twiddle and play with using items they are familiar with,” Fran said.

“Often these are things they are losing the ability to use and it gives them a kick when they see they can still do it.

“By mid-2018 we reached a very proud milestone of gifting 1000 beautifully-crafted pieces made by women in the Yarra Valley.

“Every woman in this group understands how precious and beneficial these hand crafted gifts are.”

The fourth Fiddle Rug Exhibition and Giveaway ran at Mont de Lancey in Wandin North from 6 to 21 October, and the group made more than 500 pieces.

Most of these were to be gifted at the exhibition, with any remaining going to nursing homes, day care centres and special schools.

The group now numbers 20 and meets on Mondays at Seville Community House, which can be contacted on 5964 3987.

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