Room for recovery: Rockland resident gets home makeover

Mikaela Slaney

Fourteen-year-old Alicia Carney had a lot to smile about Saturday as she held up her hermit crab named Dude.

Although Dude was a little too shy that day to peek out from his conch shell, Alicia was not too shy to show off her new room.

Last weekend, thanks to nonprofit organization Room to Dream, she received a small flat-screen TV, repainted walls, a new desk, a new case for her CPAP ventilation device and a widened door large enough to fit her wheelchair through for the first time since she started using it at age 7.

Before Saturday, Alicia’s room was pink.

But thanks to three volunteer painters, a carpenter and a designer, the walls are now yellow, with a red desk, and lots of red trim.

“I like all different colors, except for pink,” Alicia said after showing off her new digs.

“I think Alicia will be more comfortable because sometimes she has to stay in here when she’s sick, and she’s hated the pink and loves the red,” said her mother, Barbara.

Alicia’s room makeover was donated by Room to Dream to help provide a nurturing climate as she faces the challenges of Rubenstein-taybi syndrome, which has limited her ability to walk and stand, and resulted in mental disabilities.

Alicia wasn’t the only one who received a room makeover this weekend. Her brother Sean, 11, a student at Rogers Middle School, had his room transformed into a sports memorabilia showcase, with items from the Patriots and the Red Sox, and his very own small flat-screen TV.

Sean is active in student council and has fistfuls of high-achievement awards, including one for high ranks in MCAS testing.

Sean said he’s particularly excited about his new desk and workspace to do his homework.

“It’s awesome,” he said.

Sean also volunteers to read at Alicia’s school, the May Center in Brockton, which specializes in care for children with mental disabilities.

Alicia attends classes 244 days per year. She and her family also spend time at the Children’s Hospital in Boston where Alicia receives treatment from what Barbara describes as top-notch doctors, who are constantly struggling to help Alicia.

Though she previously enjoyed ballet and swimming, Alicia had to give up the activities when her knees started dislocating, and her legs fractured slightly with increased pressure, confining her primarily to a wheelchair.

But before last weekend, her door wasn’t large enough for her wheelchair to get inside.

“She used to be able to scoot around on her butt, but it’s hard because she’s getting older now,” said Barbara Carney. “And she can come in now and get her clothes so it’s a lot easier for her.”

Despite the obstacles she faces, Carney said Alicia is a happy and optimistic kid who enjoys learning new things and chatting on the phone with her friends.

“She’s very optimistic, she’s very happy,” she said. “You’ll say ‘oh it’s raining,’ and she says ‘I love the rain.’ She’s just bubbly like that. She can’t play sports like she loves to, but she plays basketball from her wheelchair with the teachers and the kids. She’s never left out.”

Last spring, the Department of Mental Retardation contacted the members of the Carney family and helped them apply to receive help from Room to Dream, which makes over the living spaces for children facing chronic illnesses so they have a serene healing space to focus on recovery.

Room to Dream works with Eleven Interiors, an interior design firm from Boston that volunteers its time.

Rockland Standard