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Giving the gift of play

Students in Ohio State's Toy Adaptation work with engineers from American Electric Power to adapt toys for children, October 2018

Children with special needs can now access their toys independently thanks to a program started by faculty and staff members in the College of Engineering. The Toy Adaptation Program (TAP) facilitates workshops to teach engineering students and community members how to adapt toys for children with disabilities. 

Liz Riter (L) and Rachel Kajfez (R)In 2015, Elizabeth Riter, academic advisor in CEGE, and Prof. Rachel Kajfez, assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education, started the program to provide hands-on educational opportunities to engineering students while also paying forward. In campus labs, students and volunteers from industry add an external port to each electronic toy so that an accessible switch can activate the toy without compromising the original functionality.

Environmental engineering graduate student Sarah Haines (L) poses with the Mitro family during the 2018 Toys for All Tots program at Nationwide Children's HospitalThe adapted toys are then donated to organizations or directly to families. 
TAP has also strengthened its bond with communities throughout Ohio by offering workshops for groups large and small, during which families may work with team members to adapt toys for their own children. The program's Toys For All Tots event, held annually at Nationwide Children's Hospital, serves dozen of families from the midwest region each year.

(L to R) Stephen Myers, Ohio State Associate Vice Provost for Outreach and Engagement, Ohio State student and former TAP intern Anne McAllister, Ohio State student and TAP intern Emily Curtiss, Liz Riter and Rachel Kajfez at the 2018 University Engagement Recognition Awards.The group's efforts were recently acknowledged by Ohio State's Office of Outreach and Engagement. The TAP was named the recipient of the 2018 Emerging Community Engagement Award. This award is given annually to an individual or group that have developed a new outreach initiative that "has shown the potential for long-term impact achievement and scholarship". Kajfez and Riter, both graduates of CEGE, are proud of the work that students in the Toy Adaptation Program and its university and community partners do on behalf of children with special needs.


Learn more about the Toy Adaptation Program at