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BY TEARING TOYS APART, SWITCHED VOLUNTEERS MAKE THEM MORE ACCESSIBLE

Tearing into a stuffed toy Minion, Grant Parks explained that not every child can play the same way.

Fine motor movements, Parks explained, include the use of muscles in fingers and toes. Children who lack such motor control can have difficulty reaching and manipulating toys.

Parks was volunteering at a “build day” on Saturday for Switched, a project of local nonprofit Pascale’s Pals. Parks is a physical therapy student and employee at the Children’s Therapy Center, which is part of MU’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

It was the first of two sessions Saturday where volunteers tore open toys, adapted them and reassembled them to give to children with fine motor impairments.

A common tool used to enable play is a “switch,” a large button that can be connected to electronics through a headphone jack. At the Children’s Therapy Center, they aid skill development and motivate children in therapy sessions.

MAKING THE SWITCH

Volunteers joined together to help adapt toys for children with disabilities on Sept. 15, 2018 in Columbia. The toys were altered to be usable with "switches," a common tool used by people with motor impairments.

Volunteers

Hughes Brightens Children's Lives with Project SWITCHED

It was a quick and inexpensive fix.

Yet, Hughes noticed the cost of new adapted toys, which are needed for children with conditions such as cerebral palsy, is often more than quadruple the price of the original.

“A lot of the kids don’t even have toys, because they’re too expensive, or they’ll have baby toys because that’s their motor level, but that’s not their cognitive level,” Hughes said. “They’re playing with rattles when they could be playing with more fun toys.

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