Making a weekly visit to Hope Home is a lovely way to break up the week. Every Wednesday morning we drive out of the city to spend time with the children who live there and who have a variety of physical and mental disabilities. Because of their limited range of motion and their hindered communication, making art with these loving children gives them a voice. We also do a lot of sensory exploration with them to have fun while allowing them to develop some motor skills. This week was a highly explorative sensory project that we call the fluff box.
Since I have been living and working in the ARI office house, I have sorted through a lot of supplies and realized that we have an enormous amount of stuffing/batting/fluff that is squishy and soft. The inspiration for this project came from another Hope Home workshop that involved a lot of different textures on plates, including fluff! We noticed that the children really liked to pull at it and hold it in their hands, so I decided I wanted to someday fill the mini ball pit at Hope Home with fluff and let the children explore the texture of... well laying inside of a teddy bear.
When we arrived we said hello to everyone and began to remove all of the balls from the pit (which really got some attention) and began to fill it with bags and bags of fluff. I was really hoping the entire pit would fill to the top with this new substance and it did! Data found a new interest in the balls and sat inside the new container we had filled with balls, throwing them around and smiling a lot. He has been really brave lately and has been really interested in the activities we bring to Hope Home, so he was the first to really jump into the fluff. At first he sat very still but soon he had wiggled his way under and submerging himself as if he was in a big bubble bath. All that could be seen was his little head poking out as he swam and rolled around.
Bow was apprehensive at first and wasn't sure what to make of the situation we had put her in. She liked touching it with her hands but wasn't sure about being surrounded! We pulled her out and he sat on the side in Sophie's lap, still playing with the fluff and watching Data and Yim. Soon she was laughing and ready to get inside to play. Yim thought that this activity was absolutely hilarious and was laughed hysterically. When her turn came she laid very relaxed in the fluff and giggled away, feeling the softness all around her. Nomchok, full of energy as usual began to jump from the side of the box into the pit!
We tried the box on Sam and Joy as well, putting a blanket over the fluff so that they wouldn't become lost in the box. We got some different reactions. Sam was excited at first but soon became too overwhelmed and maybe a little claustrophobic so we removed him and comforted him, remembering that he usually prefers harder surfaces. For Joy we got some arm, leg and head movement and she seemed very at ease laying effortlessly in the box with a smile on her face.
Lastly, we wanted to get Wichai into the box! Rosie had noticed that while we were emptying the pit, he was already interested in the fluff and sat outside, rubbing a piece of fluff through his hands and on his feet. He did not want to come inside so we brought the fluff box to him. He got really excited when we put it in front of him and a huge smile spread across his face. We lifted him in and he became immediately relaxed, laying down and touching the fluff all around him.
It was a morning full of laughter and cuteness and everyone had a lot of fun! It's amazing what a simple substance in large quantities can do to provoke curiosity and exploration and encourage fun and creativity. Thanks to all the volunteers for helping with the workshop and to Hope Home for allowing us to explore this substance so deeply with their children.
Wishing peace, love and curiosity to everyone