KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Santa is checking the toys twice making sure each one is ready for someone nice. Santa’s elves like Fernando of Spark have been busy making each toy adaptable for children with disabilities.
Many popular toys this Christmas season are designed without kids with special needs or limited abilities in mind. That’s where Spark’s Toy Tech program comes in.
A team of special elves with Spark Knoxville and Knox Makers work together to make toys adaptable for kids who need them.
“What we do is, we take the toy apart, so every toy has a brain,” said Mary Thom Adams, Spark’s executive director. “Some of them are more complicated than others, some of them are easier.”
Instead of trying to push a hidden button inside a toy, that button is placed in a more accessible spot. The adjustment makes it easier for a child with disabilities to reach. The modified toys will be given to kids at the Toy Tech event next week.
“It’s a lot of fun to see them smile and know they’re going to be able to play with toys the way everybody gets to,” Adams said. “Every child deserves to play.”
The project gets an A-plus from “Santa,” portrayed by Gary Harmon, a former teacher, who knows what it’s like to live with a disability.
“Santa was a little boy with a disability once, too, and I never saw Santas that didn’t have hands,” Harmon said. “That would’ve been so cool. I didn’t know people without hands could grow up and have a job. But I got one.”
Thank you, Santa, for sharing the gift of that message and for making sure the gifts of toys are ready and accessible for a child this Christmas.
If your child would like one of the adapted toys, you need to register for the drive-thru toy event. Toys will be given out from 3-6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8, at the Spark office, 116 Childress St., in Knoxville. You can register or donate at www.sparktn.org.