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Snug as a bug in a rug: local mom's sensory, compression wear line for kids a hit with parents

The Kanata mom was inspired by her two-year-old daughter who was born premature and with muscle and sensory challenges.
2022-03-07
Virginia Dubois and her three-year-old daughter Lea. (Photos/Stacey Laviolette)

When Virgina Dubois’ daughter Lea was diagnosed with muscle and sensory challenges, it meant her now three-year-old was in need of compression garments.

These garments were important for a few reasons, including to help Lea engage her core muscles to help her sit and stand —  plus, the snug hug of the compression helped Lea regulate her emotions.

But there were problems: anything that was out there was expensive, stiff, itchy, hot and hard to wash, and she couldn’t find a place to buy what she needed locally.

Whatever was out there, though, definitely were not made for children.

Using her background in working with differently-abled individuals, her experience as a disabled mom (she was involved in an accident at 14 which caused her to have a chronic nerve disease) and after conducting research and sourcing help from other experts in occupational therapy, Dubois made one, especially for Lea.

“I’ve always created specially weighted and compression items for my clients but just for fun,” Dubois said. “When my daughter was born prematurely her doctor and occupational therapist recommended that she get a vest to help her engage her core muscles and address her high sensory needs.”

The compression she made for her daughter was a success, and she and her doctors could see improvements in Lea, both in how she was able to stay upright and in her ability to communicate.

Then other parents started noticing Dubois’ creation and how it was helping her daughter — they, too, wanted to get their hands on a compression product of their own for their kids, some with ADHD or Autism.

So the single mom of two teamed up with Liane Norman with On the Ball Pediatric Physio and Occupational Therapy, patented a design and started taking orders.

The demand is there, and the Kanata resident can hardly keep up.

“One vest turned into multiple vest designs and then other sensory products such as [sensory] tunnels and body socks,” Dubois said.

Other products in her line include compression tank tops, compression arm sleeves with thumb holes.

Now Dubois has five compression and sensory products on the market that are sold at several On the Ball Pediatric Physio and Occupational Therapy locations and Dubois said every product has been tested.

“Together, we hope to change how we address compression wear and empower the wearer to feel beautiful in the skin they’re in,” Dubois said. “I also really want to meet the needs of a parent. My products are machine washable and can be machine dried, which is so hard to find in therapy wear. It’s more realistic for hot summer weather and has a quick turnaround of wearability and really reduces the workload for parents.”

She hopes to one day expand her line to include everybody — big, small, tall, short and everyone in between with varying lifestyles.

The only thing standing in her way, she said, is getting her hands on more material.

“We are focusing on the community needs to fill a void and to help keep everything local in support of other local Ottawa families.”

She also wants to keep her products affordable and accessible.

“With the help of other Ottawa locals I hope to raise enough money to buy fabric and supplies in bulk to continue keeping costs down for parents and also keep up with the demand of the sales,” she said.

Dubois is raising the money she needs for that bulk buy through a GoFundMe campaign, which was launched last week and can be accessed here.

“I can’t wait to design more and continue inventing concepts that are out of the box, functional, beautiful and affordable.”

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