Dean Burnning may be a man of few words but he has a lot to say about a planned addition at Participation House.
“I’m happy that we’re getting a snoezelen room,” Burnning said with the help of an electronic voice attached to his wheelchair. “We’ve used the room up the hill at Brantwood and we loved it.”
“When we get one of our own more of us will be able to enjoy the joys of snoezelen. I want to be able to use ours once a week.”
A Snoezelen room, he explained, would give the PSS residents the opportunity to get out of their wheelchairs more often.
He particularly enjoys a swing that will be part of the new room. “It makes me happy,” he said, adding he also enjoys the lights, colours and music that comes with a Snoezelen room.
Lilly Flores, Manager of Residential Services, explained, “You and I have choices. We can do things like comb our hair, choose what kinds of foods we have, or decide if we’re going to go out for the day. Our residents don’t have many choices. The Snoezelen room gives them lots of choices."
“It’s a sensory stimulation room,” Flores said. “There are lights, music, smell, there is hearing. There are so many different activities that we can gear to each client individually.”
The residents can decide which area of the room they want to visit, she added.
“It is really quite incredible,” Flores said. “If a resident can’t hear or listen there’s a spot in the snoezelen room where a resident can lay down and actually feel the vibration of the music."
“That’s something you and I might take for granted but for our clients it’s really something different for them to experience.”
Space has been set aside for the Snoezelen room and Participation House has launched a campaign to raise money for the project — which will cost an estimated $75,000 including the equipment.
Brantford Power, a long-time supporter of Participation House, is at the forefront of the fundraising campaign.
“We have a fundraising barbecue every year and we turn the proceeds over to Participation House,” Tina Peeler, a customer service representative from Brantford Power, said. “Over the past 15 years we’ve raised over $55,000 and this year we’re hoping to raise more than $10,000 to go towards the snoezelen room installation.”
The barbecue attracts a huge crowd and features a raffle which, in the past, has included prizes such as gift cards, restaurant certificates, golfing accessories as well as tickets to see the Toronto Raptors, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The barbecue also honours the late Dan Ritchie, a founder and long-time supporter of Participation House who was also a long-time employee of what is now Brantford Power. Ritchie had cerebral palsy and while he may have found it tough going sometimes, long-time employees say Ritchie never let it get in the way of enjoying life to its fullest.
Susan Tulloch, vice-president of customer service and conservation at Brantford Power, is part of the organizing committee for the barbecue. “I’m really pleased to be involved,” Tulloch said. “This is an employee-driven initiative that as a company we are happy to support every year."
“There is also that special link that we have through Dan Ritchie, who was a founder and board member of Participation House.”
Esimated Cost: $75,000
Funds Raised: $55,000
Goal for 2016: $10,000