Blissful Bedrooms Improves Lives of Severely Disabled
Change a bedroom; change a life. It isn’t a concept heard often, but it is one that Astoria residents Alex Dvoryadkin and Martha Gold-Dvoryadkin, co-founders of the non-profit organization Blissful Bedrooms, believe in deeply.
Gold-Dvoryadkin, a pediatric physical therapist at a New York City special education school, sees every day, firsthand the severe disabilities many young adults live with. For some, the disability will limit their lives to the confines of their bedroom after graduating school at age 21.
Tamisha, one student of Gold-Dvoryadkin, graduated in 2007 and has been confined to her apartment ever since. She is completely dependent on caregivers. She cannot speak, and cannot move any part of her body below her head. She relies on head shakes and nods, facial gestures and sounds to express herself. “She was basically doing nothing but sitting home in her bedroom everyday,” Gold-Dvoryadkin says. “She was sad, lonely and bored.”
So in February 2009, Martha and Alex found a way to give her the mental stimuli she had lacked since leaving school. They turned her white-walled, empty bedroom into a haven of pink and green (Tamisha’s favorite colors), and added rainbows and butterflies. “Re-decorating Tamisha’s room was our attempt at making her happier,” Gold-Dvoryadkin says.
The couple received a kind of high from helping Tamisha. “It was an incredible feeling for Martha and I to see Tamisha’s reaction to her new room, one that we never anticipated, which stayed with us for weeks after, and which inspired us to do it again with others,” Dvoryadkin says.
With the help of volunteers and donations of money and materials, the couple has now completed ten bedroom makeovers. Recipients thus far have been students at Gold-Dvoryadkin’s school, but the couple aims to reach out to other New York City residents as well. Potential recipients can apply, or have someone else apply, using a form on the organization’s website.
Those who meet the criteria—under 25 years old, severely disabled, highly dependent, wheelchair-bound with decreased opportunities outside of their bedroom—are placed in a lottery pool. The recipient is chosen from the pool, and the fundraising begins. “The limiting factor right now is funds,” says Gold-Dvoryadkin. The most recent project was made possible by donations from more than 175 individuals and companies and the participation of more than 50 volunteers.
And the makeovers are only the beginning. Recipients and their families are welcomed into “a social circle, an extended family,” says Gold-Dvoryadkin, “that we nurture by hosting and organizing opportunities to regularly get together and get [the disabled] out of their bedrooms.”
The couple has also started to form another grassroots organization to help disabled youth, Yoga Wonderland. “We believe that Yoga Wonderland will be the perfect complement to Blissful Bedrooms in that we will be empowering young individuals with disabilities both inside and outside of their bedrooms,” Dvoryadkin says.
For more information on Yoga Wonderland, visit the organization’s website.