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Adapting Toys For All

Part of the heart of our mission of SCT is to help enrich the lives of children in need by providing the opportunity to play, so in order to broaden our reach in order to serve more kids, this year Second Chance Toys joined forces with the NYC chapter of Makers Making Change (MMC) to aid in launching their new event: Adaptive Toy Hackathons. 

Loreto Dumitrescu, a member of MMC in NYC, co-founder of Zero Day Camp in Brooklyn, and our partner in planning, describes that “Makers Making Change aims to connect makers, persons with disabilities, and disability professionals to break down access barriers to assistive technologies. Toy adapting is a way of modifying commercially available toys in a way that children with motor disabilities may activate them. Even the simplest toys are inaccessible for children with physical disabilities. These children often use custom switches to engage with devices such as tablets, communication systems, and environmental controls. By re-wiring and adding an auxiliary jack to the toy, children can then plug in their switch and play with toys they may not be able to otherwise.”

After connecting with Loreto and learning about the program we were sure that we wanted to join together and provide all gently-used toys! Since not all toys are adaptable, however, we culled reactive items that either move or dance, make noises and play music, or light up and flash to that additional connection and switches could be added. This way another group of kids can receive useful, appropriate toys, meanwhile, pounds of plastic avoids the landfill!

On December 12th, 2021 the NYC chapter of Makers Making Change ran its first ever adapted toy hackathon at MakerspaceNYC in Brooklyn, NY. Together Makers Making Chance and Second Chance Toys were able to collect and adapt 15 toys and distribute them to local organizations throughout the city. 

Volunteers from various organizations including The Henry Viscardi School, Adapt Community Network, High Technology High School, Zero Day Camp, as well as local makers and tinkerers lent a hand in the work, giving the toys an electronic makeover and a second chance! We all hope to grow this event and continue to host hackathons in the future; sharing the know-how of toy adapting to help engage all children in the magic of play.