From left Councillor Walt McKechnie Steve Roberts and Kin Emmerson enjoy lunch together at the Dysart et al Volunteer Appreciation event at the curling club on Sunday April 22. /JENN WATT Staff

Volunteers busy making activity mats

By Jenn Watt

Published Feb. 28 2017

The counter at Community Support Services’ Haliburton office is covered in scraps of cloth rubber toys bells zippers and photos. You can’t help but reach out to pet the bright green rabbit’s foot or try out big metal zipper on some of the eight activity mats or “busy blankets” prepared with care by local volunteers.
And that’s the point.
The mats are designed to keep hands occupied particularly for those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. One of the symptoms of the disease is fidgeting hands.

Earlier this year CSS volunteer co-ordinator Brigitte Gebauer asked those in the community who like to craft and sew to try making activity mats to be distributed to Highland Wood and Hyland Crest long-term care homes in Minden and Haliburton.
Last week Gebauer was able to take the first batch to residents Feb. 23 a stack of mats created by Flo Taylor and Flo Elliott of Wilberforce and Lynn Higgs Thompson.
Using a pattern provided by Gebauer Taylor and Elliot were able to piece together the mats each its own unique design.
In choosing the baubles for the mats the women kept texture and sound in mind. They used donated material and shopped at the dollar store for trinkets to affix to the mats.

Between the women’s donations and others that have come in over the last month more than 20 blankets have been collected; however Gebauer says she needs another 30.
Anyone interested in creating a busy blanket can call Gebauer at 705-457-2941 or She can send you patterns to follow or you can look them up on Pinterest or other online crafting sites.