The Grade 11 woodworking class at Fort Frances High School has been busy with an extra-curricular project this term in conjunction with the local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Gerri Yerxa, psychogeriatric resource consultant at the CMHA here, said the project is designed for seniors experiencing cognitive decline in long-term care homes.
“The Psychogeriatric Resource Program worked in collaboration with [teacher] Vince Gouin’s woodworking shop class to create tactile stimulation boards,” she noted.
Tactile stimulation boards, or manipulation boards, are lap-sized tables with things such as nuts and bolts, latches, and outlets and plugs screwed on top for residents to practice their fine motor skills.
“We worked within the community to collect items to create the boards,” said Yerxa, thanking Ryan Mason Contracting, the CMHA, and the maintenance department at Rainycrest for their donations to the project.
“These tactile boards will be used throughout all long-term care facilities in Rainy River District to provide meaningful activities for people living with cognitive decline,” she explained.
“It’s just another opportunity for the residents who have cognitive issues to be able to have a form of stimulation that’s quite meaningful—meaningful from their past,” Yerxa noted.
“They may not be able to build certain things, but they’re still able to have a meaningful task of putting something together or utilizing tools.
“It’s been a really great community partnership,” Yerxa continued.
“We thought the kids did a really great job because they used their own creativity to craft these tactile stimulation boards for our residents.”
“It was a community project and we’ve done three now,” noted Gouin.
“We’ve done the manipulation boards, the eight garden boxes for the Community Garden, and we just built, along with the manufacturing class, a set of stools and chairs for the atrium [at FFHS].
“They didn’t know what [the tactile boards] were for until I explained it to them,” he added.
Gouin likened the boards to toys that teach children how to tie their shoes and button their shirts so his students could better understand what they were building.
“It’s always good to help out our community,” Gouin added, noting the Grade 11 class was assisted by his Grade 12 class on the project.
“It was fun,” said Grade 12 student Todd Morrison.
“It was hard at the beginning and then it got easier when we started making them,” he noted.
Twenty-four boards will be completed by early next year, with 12 already in use in long-term care homes around the district.