MILWAUKEE — Marquette University and the Penfield Children’s Center have launched the Adaptive Toy Project to serve children with developmental disabilities.
Simple toys, like teddy bears and a bubble machine, underwent a few electrical modifications.
Josie Kulawiec soldered wires to a teddy bear.
The Marquette nursing student said the goal is to be able to press a button to activate the toy.
“They usually have a little sensor here that you press and then the blanket goes up and it says peekaboo but if you can’t press it or if you don’t have the dexterity, you will be able to attach a big button here and so they can just press it and it just makes it so much easier for them,” said Kulawiec.
Kulawiec joined the build day for the “Adaptive Toy Project” with other Marquette and high school students.
She wanted to help kids with developmental disabilities.
“They can be born with any disabilities and it just prevents them from living their life like a regular kid but having toys like these makes them feel more normal and more comfortable in their own skin and more prepared to take on the world,” said Kulaweic.
The adaptive toys built here will go to the Penfield Children’s Center in Milwaukee.
Vladimir Bjelic is a speech pathologist for the Penfield Children’s Center.
He said these toys will be used as a part of speech therapy.
“Now with these adaptive toys, we give the kids the ability to do it themselves so they are the ones that are able to hit it and make something happen and that’s a part of communication. It’s that cause and effect,” said Bjelic. “When the kid has a reaction, the parent ends up having a reaction and they are able to bond over that.”
Marquette University’s Opus College of Engineering explained it was important to get students involved in the project to show how they can directly make a difference.
“Marquette is always encouraging our students to get out and experience all that Milwaukee communities have to offer so we love programs like this where we can combine both engineering and that community aspect so that students can really understand what tools and skills they know and how it can impact people around them,” said Molly Erickson, Marquette University research engineer.
Kulawiec doesn’t expect soldering to be a necessary skill as a nurse, however she said she is glad she learned to.
“I’m just happy to be here, and who knows? One day I might be working with kids that have disabilities and being to provide them with stuff like this could be really fun and heartwarming,” said Kulawiec.
As someone who aspires to be a nurse, she wants to do what she can to help take care of people.