Saturday, December 25, 2010

De Belevenis

This is a special project for special children made by artists. A big tent build as a mobile construction is placed on the sport field near Rotterdam harbor. It will stay there for a few months Than it will be reconstructed and transferred to another town in Holland. This way everyone has the possibility to see it in their own neighborhood. A really special project.
Inside this big tent is placed a fantasy world designed to stimulate our six senses in many different ways. The project is called “De Belevenis” which means The Experience. Every visitor can get their own unique experience depending on his/her individual level of understanding/functioning.
The tent offers 6 large rooms created as a specific world of sensations: Ocean, Sky, Jungle, Arctic, Arabic and Red Surprise. Each of them offers their own special sounds, tactility and visual stimulations in the range: from simple to more complex. Sometimes we have to press a large button and snow begins to fall, or a wall starts to vibrate, or a big elephant head waves with his large ears.... Sometimes we have to open a door and bells start to ring inside, or a small carousel begins to turn around, or a strong aromatic odor comes out. There are big trampolines, large soft tunnels, water beds, and life size tubes with a light show to stand in. In different places you'll find slow and large slide-shows of fish swimming in the ocean, sounds of birds and a misty jungle atmosphere . . . . . A really amazing world of different experiences for our senses. When you get tired of the impressions you can go to a special room with a king-size warm water-bed. Here is a lady who will give you a relaxing massage with aromatic oil as long as you need it.
This project is created only for children with special needs and old people with dementia. The groups were small up to 30 visitors for a day so that everyone has enough time to make discoveries and to take their own experience from it.
Here are some photos to get an idea about “De Belevenis”:

Every year we visit De Belevenis once. This was our third visit.
It was a present from Marijke, our neighbor who plays with Dejana already for 10 years. Every week she comes on Thursday morning for tree hours of exercise. This time she took us to a special event outside. Marleen, another member of our team joint us as well.
I am always curious about changes that Dejana might show in comparison with the year before.
And she surprised us pleasantly. It was the first time that she went from one object to another very curiously and observed them carefully. This is not usual for a child with Rett syndrome. We were very exiting to see that she turned her head and looked around, that she recognized big animal-toys from a distance, smiled and turned her body to go there and touch them. She did it in slow motion but it was very close to a “normal child's” behavior. So nice to see it! Dejana observed her surrounding and could orientate in space all on her own. She did this for a half an hour. Then she got tired and needed a rest. I was very happy with this improvement. It occurred a few times during that day that she was showing clear initiative.

The second surprise happened on the large trampoline. We climbed on it together and let Dejana lay down as years before. Than we helped her to stand up expecting her to fall on this unstable surface, but she didn't. She stood and kept her balance even when we started to jump around her. She really enjoyed herself as well as we did. We jumped for 20 minutes, laughing and singing and Dejana was balancing in the middle proud on herself. It proved again that she likes challenging situations so much that she performs them better then daily actions. I keep on thinking that girls with Rett syndrome don't get enough challenges in their life's even if it absolutely necessary.

And then we came by two clowns. Is was not very busy at “De Verbeelding” that day, so the clowns were there only for Dejana. It was fascinating to see how especially one of the two ladies made contact with Deja and told her a story without saying one word. De silent clown kept Dejana’s full attention for more than twenty minutes. She had a small bird that sang a little song, she laughed at Dejana, had a wooden box with beautiful little things in it and Dejana followed it all carefully. All the time without putting her thumbs in her mouth (stereotype), what she almost always does when she is not “at work”. They really were in contact with each other, looked in each others eyes, there was connection and understanding. The changing to the second clown was the break point. That act took only a few minutes but Dejana’s concentration was over. She stood up and…….. went to the first clown and gave her a little Deja-kiss. We were touched.

After all this exiting Experiences we finally finished in the relaxing room. Dejana laid on the large warm water bed and got her body massage. Her legs and feet got relaxed and than hands and arms. During the massage of her back she felt in sleep.
It was a wonderful day for her. Thank you Marijke for a nice present.

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