Local colleges helping nonprofit modify toys for kids with special needs

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TRI-CITIES, TN/VA (WJHL)- A local nonprofit is working to give the gift of mobility to kids with special needs.

AdaptoPlay​ ​is​ ​made up of volunteers and is ​a​ ​team​ ​of children,​ ​family​ ​and​ ​the​ ​professional​ ​community​. ​The goal is to help families of kids with a variety of needs and abilities for free.
AdaptoPlay’s goal is giving kids of all abilities the same the opportunities to play. “Play​ ​is​ ​where​ ​children​ ​develop imagination,​ ​coordination,​ ​physical,​ ​cognitive​ ​and​ ​emotional​ ​skills.​ ​Our​ ​goal​ ​is​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​play activities​ ​through​ ​adapted​ ​toys,​ ​mobility​ ​devices​ ​and​ ​recreational/sporting​ ​activities.,” ​​ ​According to AdaptoPlay’s website.
The goal is to “boost​ ​self​ ​esteem,​ ​encourage​ ​independence​ ​and ​ ​improve​ ​the​ ​quality​ ​of​ ​life​ ​of​ ​children​ ​of differing abilities.​” ​
Alex Nelson is a physical therapist and the co-founder of AdaptoPlay. She said by​ ​offering​ ​these​ ​ services,​ they hope to ​create​ ​a​ ​more​ ​inclusive world​ ​for​ ​ children.
“Giving a kid mobility opens up their world, being able to choose where they want to go is very important instead of having their parents or their loved ones pick them up and move them,” Nelson said.

AdaptoPlay just launched in the Tri-Cities. One its first programs is called “GoBabyGo Appalachia.” Through this program, Milligan engineering students helped modify toy Jeeps to fit the specific needs of each child.

Some of the changes they made to the jeeps include replacing the steering wheel with a joystick, adding extra wheels, inserting harness systems, and adding a kill switch for the parents- all specific modifications to help the kids be able to play and move independently.

Nelson said the organization hopes to continue to grow and start an adaptive sporting program for kids with physical disabilities.

“What we would like to do is start an adaptive basketball league and take them outdoor fishing and making sure they are playing together and making it inclusive,” Nelson said.

Nelson said she hopes to create opportunities for kids of all abilities to play together in an inclusive environment.

AdaptoPlay has partnered with ETSU’s College of Public Health and Department of Physical Therapy and Milligan College’s engineering and occupational therapy programs to help with these projects.

This past weekend, East Tennessee State University hosted a GoBabyGo Appalachia “Drive & Treat” event at the ETSU/Eastman Valleybrook Campus.

Te event was for children with limited mobility who have received a modified ride-on toy. ETSU College of Public Health students created a “town” at Valleybrook for the children to drive through and trick-or-treat. This was the first time many of the children were able to participate in an event like this.Copyright 2017 WJHL. All Rights Reserved.

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