Our organization works each day to bridge gaps in accessibility and awareness for those living with Cerebral Palsy. Sadly, even in this day and age of digital media and connectivity, there are far too many people who remain unaware about how much more is still needed for those with special needs. Hasbro is a high-profile organization that recognizes a need for inclusion and access, creating ToyBox Tools as a medium to build awareness and accessibility in the realm of fun for children.
First, it’s important to explain why we are bringing attention to this topic. Awareness, in almost any social issue, is the first step to creating change; simply put, people don’t know what they don’t know. The ability to make an impact in a child’s understanding through organized play activity is a key cog of therapist efforts but can also be a part of a parent’s everyday. Sometimes the only thing preventing a parent from continuing the invaluable work of professionals is a lack of understanding and, more importantly, the tools to make a difference.
Working closely with The Autism Project, Hasbro introduced ToyBox Tools as an effort to connect their lineup of toys with effective exercises and organized play efforts to make play accessible. While the initial focus may appear to be centered on autism, Hasbro’s efforts connect directly with teachers and occupational therapists, two key components of a child’s IEP and champions of children with special needs. Indeed, there are overlaps in the challenges faced by children with autism as well as those with severe Cerebral Palsy-related conditions. As such, ToyBox Tools may be an effective asset for parents to look into.
One thing that is especially valuable in this effort is the use of ‘mainstream’ toys to teach lessons to children with special needs. The ability to use the same toys children without special needs use can help children facing challenges feel connected and tear down barriers that might exist through a common interest. Instead of pushing a line of toys that do not align with the commercials, advertisements and movies children see, Hasbro’s ToyBox Tools have found a way to connect familiar characters with valuable lessons.
ToyBox Tools has a wide number of downloadable assets that can be helpful for any parent, including those with a child with special needs. With characters from across the Hasbro lineup, ToyBox Tools include downloadable options that can help teach through Countdown Timers, Visual Supports (flash cards for things like turn-taking, waiting, help, etc.), as well as playmats. Through these tools, you can pair toys like Mr. Potato Head, Transformers, My Little Pony, etc., to these lessons for an ongoing platform to help your child learn.
With the ToyBox Tools effort, Hasbro is looking to build awareness around play therapy and learning that can help the general public and parents of children with special needs alike. Our hope is that the effort will continue to build and grow due to the critical value programs like this can offer children with special needs.