Volunteers make toys more accessible
COLUMBIA - The roars from toy dinosaurs and giggles from Tickle-Me-Elmos filled the room in Clark Hall on Saturday while volunteers tore into the toys. They worked to make them more accessible for all children.
SWITCHED Adapted Toys, along with Pascale's Pals, is rewiring electronic toys for children with motor skill impairments. Volunteers add an external button to the gadget, making it easier to operate.
Physical therapist Dana Chole said many toys pose a big challenge for children with disabilities.
"A lot of our kids that have chronic conditions, like cerebral palsy or other genetic conditions, that have limited vision or limited fine motor control can't just point and press a button. That takes quite a lot of force," she said.
Chole said play is very important to childhood development.
"All of our other kids learn communication. They learn their wants. They learn how to ask for things. They learn how to explore their environment through play," she said. "So our kids that have limited access to things, their opportunities to then learn, especially learn to communicate, are really, really diminished."
The button can range in size from a quarter to a dinner plate, depending on the child's needs.
SWITCHED already has 250 modified toys ready to donate to families in December. The next workshop to learn how to adapt toys in Sept. 29.