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AEP Employees Adapt Toys for Children with Differing Abilities

by on May 7, 2018
Forty-three AEP employee volunteers participated in a workshop at the Transmission Training Center in Pataskala to adapt electronic toys for children with special needs. Here, Daniel Headapohl (left), Transmission Right of Way agent, and Karmyn Wilford, an engineering co-op student, display the toy they modified.

(Story by Shawna Hansen)

AEP’s ADAPT Employee Resource Group (ERG) and AEP Transmission employees teamed up with staff and students of The Ohio State University Department of Engineering Education’s Toy Adaptation Program on April 10. Forty-three AEP employee volunteers participated in a workshop at the Transmission Training Center in Pataskala to adapt electronic toys for children with special needs. Working in teams, they modified new toys, purchased with funds donated through the AEP Toy Drive.

“Adapting toys is the process of changing them to allow people with special needs to use and play with them. The activity involves adding switches, buttons or other devices that allow the toy to be more fully and easily used,” explained event organizer, John Vargo, contract analyst, Transmission procurement.

“What you’re doing is making a toy usable for a child with different abilities than others. It is the circumstances and environment that are disabling. Today we are changing the environment for the kids, so they are no longer disabled and can play and learn independently,” said Jim Brosnahan, ADAPT ERG Chair, IT Continuous Improvement manager. Brosnahan shared touching stories about his niece who has severe brain trauma, his son who has Downs Syndrome and his older daughter who works in adaptive physical therapy, inspiring him to get more involved with this program.

OSU intern Emily Curtiss instructed volunteers to play with their switch-activated, battery-operated toy first to see what it is supposed to do. Adapting the toys to talk, spin, light up and move around successfully with their adaptations in about two hours takes careful planning, attention to detail and teamwork.

Workshop participants carefully disassembled the toys to uncover the circuit board and figure out where to install plug-in ports that allow the use of alternate switches and push buttons or even adaptive gear that allows children to use their head or mouth to operate the toys once connected to the new port. The toys were then taken to the workshop bay, where volunteers (experienced and trained in soldering) attached the wires for new switches. Once the toys were tested, they were carefully reassembled back in their original packaging to look brand new.

Rachel Kajfez, OSU assistant professor, explained that adaptive toys can also be used for therapy. Adapted versions from manufacturers typically cost two to four times more than the same toy bought normally. Volunteers watched a video from Liz Reiter, academic advisor, civil environmental engineering, who developed toy lending libraries where families can try different toys for as long as they want to keep them for free.

Completed toys will be donated directly to families of children with special needs and to adaptive toy lending libraries, such as the one at Ohio State’s Nisonger Center. “Families of children with different abilities are always looking for ways their child can just play like a normal kid and it is pure joy to be able to help them,” said Kajfez.

Workshop participants carefully disassembled the toys to uncover the circuit board and figure out where to install plug-in ports that allow the use of adaptive solutions.

“Anyone could do this. I work in Procurement, I’m not an engineer, but once we took things apart, it started to make sense,” said Andrea Cuthbert, contract analyst, who partnered with Tram Trinh, Transmission project management senior, to adapt some toys.

“It feels good doing something for other people and this puts things into perspective on things we might sometimes take for granted,” added Trinh.

“By giving up a little of our time, we are giving a child a lot of play time with a brand new toy,” said Cuthbert.

Read more – https://www.osu.edu/features/2016/toys-that-touch-hearts.html

Learn more – http://u.osu.edu/osutap

 

From → News From AEP

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