SURREY — Myra Danyluk is very particular about her dolls.
From the fabric she chooses – and where she gets it and how much it costs – to the way her dolls are traced and stuffed, the soft-spoken 69-year-old Surrey resident takes every aspect of doll making seriously.
And for good reason – she knows exactly where they are going and how important they will be to the little hands who hold them.
Danyluk makes muslin dolls for Surrey Memorial Hospital’s pediatric unit. During the past few years, she figures she’s hand made and hand delivered about 300 to 400 dolls to the hospital.
Although she doesn’t get to see her handiwork in action, she knows just how important her dolls are – and what they mean to the kids.
“It makes me feel really good,” said Danyluk, adding the dolls offer her a chance to give back to the community despite her limited mobility.
“It’s a way that I can contribute without having to physically volunteer.
“This is my way of being able to give back.”
Danyluk, who also makes quilts and pillow cases for the hospital, says it takes her about two hours to make a batch of six dolls. On average, she says she delivers about 30 to 40 dolls every few months – the hospital lets her know when they are running low. She says she hopes that’s because the children take the dolls home with them after their stay.
“I hope so. That’s the idea.”
Indeed, many young patients do leave with a small, white souvenir of their stay, says child life specialist Kim Wartak.
“The dolls are so important,” says Wartak, who uses the dolls daily in her work at Surrey Memorial Hospital. “Play is invaluable for children because that’s how they process their world. We use play and toys as tools to communicate with children…. If we have bubbles and dolls, we’re good.”
Sometimes, for one reason or another, kids won’t talk about how they feel or what’s going on – and that’s when Danyluk’s dolls become invaluable.
“We communicate through the doll with what’s happening to them,” Wartak says, as one young patient watches intently from a nearby play station. “Even how they colour the doll can give us an indicator for how they are feeling.”
And they do much more than just find the “owie” area. They also help a child understand and mentally prepare for things like having an IUV – Wartak often uses the dolls as pretend patients to show how an IUV is done.
“We practise using the doll. The more information the children have, the more equipped they are.”
For her part, Wartak is thrilled to see Danyluk being recognized in the Now.
“When we heard about the ‘Now’s Hidden Heroes series, we thought of her because nobody really knows how these dolls appear, we just know they are so useful… They are so valuable to us.”
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