Inclusive Play: Toys For All
In collaboration with Marquette University’s Opus College of Engineering and Kohl’s Building Blocks, Penfield Children’s Center’s Inclusive Play: Toys For All program is providing adaptive toys to children in the Milwaukee community.
This program originated from the realization that children learn best through play, but not all children can play with toys the same way. For some children with varying abilities, interacting with toys can be more challenging; therefore, modifications need to be made so that these children can learn, play, and communicate independently.
A Collaboration Between
How it works
Under the direction of Marquette University’s Opus College of Engineering, electrical modifications are made to traditional children’s toys to adapt them to work with large switch buttons. When pressed, these switch buttons activate the toy and allow the child to directly play and learn from the toy.
The toys are added to the Kohl’s Building Blocks lending library at Penfield Children’s Center, where families can check out the toys to be used at home. The toys are also available for Penfield therapists and teachers to use during home visits and in the center.
The benefits of adaptive toys
Adaptive toys are extremely expensive; offering them as part of our lending library program allows families to utilize them at no cost. It also allows children to play with a variety of toys, allowing them to experience and play with different types of toys.
Early intervention is key when working with young children with varying abilities. These adapted toys allow us to introduce the concept of cause and effect, one of the first language skills taught. When the child pushes the switch, something happens. We then get a reaction from the child. For many of our children, this is their only way of communicating.
Hosted annually, local high school FIRST Robotics teams and Marquette students are invited to participate in build days. On these days, students are trained and then perform the electrical modifications to adapt the toys. It’s a great event that brings our community together for an amazing cause.