Our club collected used squash balls and collaborated with a refurbishment company to produce ball blankets, used as a sensory stimulation aid, that helps autistic and hyperactive children. The blanket was then donated to a local school that specialises in helping children with special needs. Similar blankets are now being produced to help others for a fraction of the cost compared to online shops. This means more children are being helped by recycling something as simple as a squash ball.
How did it start?
The club started an idea contest with members on our Facebook page. We offered a gift card as a reward for the best idea. A teacher who supports children with special needs suggested the idea of a ball blanket. In one day the blanket idea got 70 likes, ten times more than the second-best idea.
The aim was to find a meaningful reuse for used squash balls. The ball blanket is a sensory stimulation aid that can have a very positive effect on children and adults. A recent international study has found that the blanket can reduce the sleep onset latency by up to 40% for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
It also showed that a child’s tendency to wake up during the night was also reduced. By doing so, this resulted in a 10% improvement in concentration levels at school.
The blanket is filled with loose balls, which help stimulate the tactile, muscle and joint sensations. This can lead to an improved body awareness, a feeling of calmness and added security.
The blanket can be used for therapy, sleeping, creating a calming environment or general play.
Why is this project important?
This project not only joins our club’s members behind a great cause, but it also creates awareness, both of recycling, and how even small actions can have a very positive impact on the lives of others.
It makes you feel good that you are part of something that helps those who are in need. The entire process is a great thing for the club and the community.
We harnessed the power of our members through crowd sourcing on our Facebook page. The club only donated some time on taking the idea further and finding the right networks to make the idea a reality. No money was used, it was all pro bono.
The effect of the ball blanket is proven, and the squash balls are perfect for it. The special needs school that received the ball blanket now uses it regulatory in its daily routines. They also recommend and guide other parents with hyperactive or autistic kids on obtaining their own, more affordable, blanket – the price is $200, compared to other blankets that cost upwards of $900.
We now donate the squash balls to the blanket-maker who produces several per month for both schools and individuals.
This is such a beautifully simple project, using what a club may already have in abundance – in this case, squash balls. This also shows that Facebook can be used as an effective idea generation platform, allowing members to get more deeply involved with their clubs.
We hope that other clubs and centres will ask themselves: ‘What do we also have in abundance that can help others?’