LifeScape looking for specific toy donations to adapt toys for kids of all abilities

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 6:00 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - LifeScape is collecting toys to make sure kids of all abilities have something to play with this holiday season. The organization needs specific toys that can be adapted.

“This is a means for A. giving them a toy that they can operate on their own. But B. it’s also a method for them to gain skills for other things,” Arlen Klamm said. Klamm is an occupational therapist and the assistive technology coordinator at LifeScape.

He has helped adapt many toys for kids. Oliver Finnesand is one of them. He’s 5 years old and lives with cerebral palsy. Oliver has limited motion, but LifeScape was able to create a toy just for him.

“The adaptive toys really let him engage with his environment and with his older brother, who’s only a year older than him. So he’s very interested in the same toys as his brother. One of his favorites definitely is a bubble machine that he can blow bubbles and brother can chase him,” Amber Finnesand said. She is Oliver’s mom.

The toys do so much more for Oliver that he doesn’t even realize.

“We will adapt a toy, get them used to using a switch like that, and then they can use those skills to be able to do things like run a communication device that might be able to speak for them or use a computer using a switch like that. Or drive a power wheelchair and get around on their own,” Klamm said.

LifeScape has partnered with Southeast Technical Institute to modify more toys for kids and adults. Electricians, electronics, and mechatronics students can volunteer to help.

“I don’t care how old you are. It’s fun playing with toys, and we get to adapt these toys, take them apart, see how they work and then modify them for operation for a larger audience,” Bryan Cox said. He is a mechatronics instructor at Southeast Tech.

He and several groups of students are planning to adapt toys before Christmas. If you have any to donate, they can be dropped off at the front desk of either LifeScape therapy locations. The first is the Rehabilitation Center at 1020 West 18th Street. The other is at the Autism & Child Development Center at 7220 West 41st Street. The toys need to be battery operated, like disco balls or battery operated fans or Christmas decorations that can be modified. They also need to be dropped off by Monday.

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