Local quilters garner national attention

By Ken Johnston
Editor

In January of 2012 when Lynn Moffatt, the Exec. Director of the Kenora-RR Alzheimer Society spoke to the crowd at the Linda Johnston Memorial Alzheimer Dinner in Rainy River, no one thought her words would translate into such big results.
Moffatt spoke to the full house about the making of Touch Quilts for people with alzheimer disease and other forms of dementia. At first it was thought the local quilters would maybe make a dozen, then a couple dozen. But the end result was more than 100 quilts! Too many for just local use and Moffatt and her staff broadened the project to include communities in the far north as well, sending the extra quilts there.
The touch quilts are made from 36 six-inch squares and feature tactile stimuli like pockets, zippers, and various textured fabrics. The idea being the tactile stimulation has benefits for Alzheimer’s patients including increased happiness, less sadness, increased attentiveness, reduced incidents and reactive behaviours.
Last week the Touch Quilts project garnered some national attention when the Canadian Quilters’s Association published its quarterly magazine and featured a story on it.
It was written by Cindy Simpson of Cochrane, Alberta. Simpson is the step-sister of Norma-Jean Johnston of Rainy River, and often reads the Record on line. She is the regional representative for Alberta and often contributes to the magazine. She and her husband travel to Rainy River at least once a year and when she read about the project she thought it would make a great story!
With the national magazine now in distribution, it is quite possible that Touch Quilts may be made elsewhere to benefit others suffering from Alzheimers and Dementia in Canada.
Anyone wanting to get a magazine can join the Canadian Quilters Association via the internet at www.canadianquilter.com. They have 2,700 members, with 285 of those being guild memberships, 46 shops and the remainder individuals.
Simpson plans to be in Rainy River this June and hopes to meet some of the local quilters that participated in the Touch Quilt project. “I will be teaching a course in Thunder Bay on Quilting when I am in the area. Maybe I can offer them a demo while in Rainy visiting Norma.”