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UMary holds its first Toy Adapt-a-thon

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This Christmas, students at the University of Mary are modifying off-the-shelf toys for children with motor disabilities. The Toy Adapt-a-thon is a nine day event in which families can bring in toys to be adapted for their children.

Jerika Cleveland is assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Hamm School of Engineering. She says children with motor disabilities often use accessibility buttons to play with motorized toys, but these buttons are expensive and pre-adapted toys don’t always have children’s favorite characters.

"So, what we can do, is we can take any toy off the shelves that lights up, it roars, it stomps, it sings, and we are actually able to put in an auxiliary cord so that the child can use their accessibility buttons with many different toys."

Cleveland says the cost for them to adapt the toys is less than $3 a toy, and it is covered through donations.

"We have identified schools in the Bismarck-Mandan area who have special education departments that have identified students who use accessibility buttons and who would benefit from these adaptions. Any toys donated would go directly back to the children and their families in the Bismack-Mandan-Lincoln area."

Cleveland hopes to make the Toy Adapt-a-thon an annual event.