Replay for Kids

The perfect gift is on our minds this season, making sure each child gets a unique gift that will be loved and treasured. What is the hottest toy this year? Where do we get it? We wait to watch our children opening that gift, squeezing and hugging it, all smiles. But some children will not be able to grab and shake those beautifully wrapped boxes, trying to guess what is inside them. A child with developmental disabilities lacks the fine motor skills to use their hands and to wiggle fingers. Little Johnny can’t squeeze a toy to make it talk because his hands don’t work the way most do. We know an organization that can help Johnny: RePlay for Kids.

RePlay for Kids’ mission is to increase the availability of toys and assistive devices for children with disabilities. Last fall, we watched thirty high school students adopt a Tickle Me Elmo toy. They gently opened up Elmo and found its battery box, rewired its controls, and connected Elmo to a great big button-shaped switch, so when Johnny presses down on that button, Elmo giggles, and so does Johnny! The perfect gift.  

There was a lesson on circuit boards at the high school, and there were jack connectors, wires, soldering irons, electrical tape, switches, and sewing kits strewn all over the desks. Students were bent over various battery-operated toys, helping each other figure out positive and negative terminals and teaching each other how to sew the backs of each toy, so the wires were safely hidden. One student said she was going home to adapt a toy for her neighbor’s child. Another said he loved this science class because he was making things—the perfect gift of education.

Since RePlay for Kids was founded in 1999, volunteers have repaired, adapted, and assembled over 14,500 toys, assistive devices, and switches in eight counties. This year’s grant will enable RePlay for Kids to adapt toys for Lorain Public Library. The Library will create a lending library of bags with adapted toys and books for children. We thank the donors of the following funds for making this grant possible: Cy Pres Fund, Lorain Glass Company Fund, North Ohio Heart Center Fund, Ruth and Ted Jacobs Fund, Sanford and Thelma Slutzker Fund, and the Vanek Family Fund. Four of these funds are unrestricted, which gave the Community Foundation the most flexibility to use the funds to support programs addressing the most critical needs in the future. None of these donors would have known of the opportunity to adapt toys for children with disabilities when they established their funds. 

If you would like to learn more about setting up an unrestricted fund to address future needs, please contact Laura Malone, Development Officer.

If you or someone you know needs a switch-adapted toy this season, please call RePlay for Kids at 216-536-1731 or visit www.replayforkids.org