Editor's note: This story is advertorial content that is part of the 2021 "Essential to Jamestown" special edition of The Jamestown Sun. The annual Progress Edition features stories on essential workers, agencies and businesses during the coronavirus pandemic.
Play for children is an important activity even for those young people who would have challenges interacting with common toys.
That has prompted officials at the Anne Carlsen Center to create an "adapt-a-thon" to produce 10 adapted toys and 10 switches for use by the students at the school. This year's event will be at 2 p.m. April 11 at Kulm involving a 4H group from Kulm and the University of Jamestown robotics team. Additional adapt-a-thon events could be scheduled through 2021.
The goal, according to a press release from the Anne Carlsen Center, is to produce switches and controllers that would allow a person to play video games without their hands "to see how they will need to adapt and design toys."
Toys are important to children of all abilities. They allow young people to develop fine motor skills that would be used to press a trigger or manipulate small buttons or controls.
A typical toy could be opened and the switch could be installed to make the toy accessible to the child.
In the past, some of these adapted toys have been presented to children at the Anne Carlsen Center.
Ashley, the mother of Thia, who suffered a severe stroke and experienced seizures, found an adapted switch useful in her daughter's play.
"A switch-activated toy motivates Thia to use her right hand to actively reach forward," Ashley wrote. "... Thank you so much for providing Thia with such an amazing toy for Christmas."
Officials with the Anne Carlsen Center said the adapt-a-thon spreads awareness of ways to make an impact on someone's life.
"(We) want people to think about inclusion," the press release said. "Maybe you think you don't know someone with a disability, but you probably do."
Having students make the adapted toys is particularly important.
"Kids that are adapting the toys in the adapt-a-thon are our future practitioners, to experience disability at least one time will get them thinking down the road about accessibility," the Anne Carlsen Center press release said.
The student-built devices are often built for costs of $3 or $4 per device while commercially available adapted toys can cost as much as $60 per device.
The Anne Carlsen Center is named for Dr. Anne Carlsen, who served as a teacher and superintendent at the school. More information is available at www.annecarlsen.org.