Selecting toys that spur creativity, grab a child's interest and challenge him to continue to explore seems simple enough. But, with thousands of toys on store shelves, it can be difficult to navigate the maze of eye-catching boxes and try-me packaging to find just the right toy for your children, whatever their interests and abilities.
This year, the National Parenting Publication Awards enlisted the play experts at the National Lekotek Center to help select the standouts in our Toys and Tech Toys categories. Lekotek is a non-profit organization that focuses on making play accessible and successful for all children. Through play centers, toy lending libraries and computer play programs across the country, Lekotek strives to ensure that all children have full access to myriad play experiences and toys that fit the way their minds and bodies work.
Lekotek also works with the toy industry to help toy manufacturers incorporate characters with disabilities into their product lines, provides research and information on toys and play for children with disabilities, and evaluates products for exceptional features.
"Our experience in working with children with special needs, their typically developing siblings and their parents has shown us that most children with disabilities do not need special toys, they just need good toys that are appropriate for them, which is why the selection process is so important," says Helen Hilken, director of the National Lekotek Center. "The toys that tend to be good for children with special needs tend to be good toys for all children."
For more information on toys and play for children of all abilities, check out www.Lekotek.org. For specific information on toys and play for a particular child with a disability, call one of Lekotek's play experts at 800-366-PLAY. Or visit:
Lekotek Family Resource Center - 2222 Watt Ave., Ste. D5, Sacramento, CA 95825; 916-979-1121; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lekotek of Northern Colorado/Foothills Gateway Inc. - 301 Skyway Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80525; 970-226-2345; email@example.com.
Lighthouse Learning Center - 550 Kingsley Ave., Orange Park, FL 32073-4830; 904-264-1241.
The Arc Lekotek/The Arc of Northwest Wayne County - 26049 Five Mile Road, Redford, MI 48239; 313-532-8524 or 313-532-7488; www.redfordtownship.com.
Lekotek-Shirley Eves/Shirley Eves Developmental and Therapeutic Center Inc. - 313 N. 10th St., Millville, NJ 08332-0787; 856-825-5840; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lekotek of UCP of NE Pennsylvania/UCP of NE Pennsylvania - 423 Center St., Clarks Summit, PA 18411; 570-587-5892; email@example.com.
CAN-DO-KIDS/Connecting Abilities Now - 841 E. Main St., Spartanburg, SC 29307; 864-591-3317; firstname.lastname@example.org.
No. Virginia/Washington, D.C. AREA