• Louise Clark with Wairau Valley Special School pupils Kimberley and Stella.

Twiddlemitts bring joy

Children with complex needs welcomed a consignment of hand-knitted support aids to their special Shore school.

Twiddlemitts are colourful, tactile hand covers with a variety of textures and objects to 'twiddle' knitted into the inside, created by volunteers at The Collective in Birkenhead. A year ago, handicraft-loving helpers began making them as a calming aid for Dementia sufferers. When a teacher from Wairau Valley Special School chanced across them in the Highbury Centre store, she knew they would be hugely beneficial to children at the school. 

Principal of Wairau Valley Special School Pam King was delighted when Louise Clark, founder of The Collective, visited with the collection of colourful mitts with a purpose to see the reactions firsthand. Pam said: "These are the sorts of things you simply cannot purchase. Each one is unique and gives each child a different sensory experience. They've clearly been made by someone who understands how important these comforting, calming pieces are to people with high and complex needs."

The school has 70 children aged between five and 21 at its Hillside Road base, as well as supporting a total of 180 children across the school off-site, with some children integrating into mainstream schools. The majority of pupils are on the autism spectrum, ranging from mild to those with severe cases of the condition. Some are non-verbal and require very high levels of care such as tube feeding, other children are higher functioning. Pam feels the Twiddlemitts will be beneficial to children right across the spectrum. Adding: "We want a variety of ways to stimulate the children, to engage they need to touch, feel, and experience."

Northcote resident Louise Clark is passionate about community and wellbeing, donating half the proceeds from the pre-loved clothing and upcycled furniture sold at The Collective to New Zealand Mental Health Foundation, and instigating the Twiddlemitts project as an aside. 

"It was very special to spend time with the children at the school and see their reactions to the Twiddlemitts firsthand.

"Thanks to our volunteers who have painstakingly made these gorgeous, purposeful creations. If anyone would like to get involved, I'm all ears! Please contact me at The Collective on 09 418 2227 or email team@thecollective.co.nz."