Lanterman Launches Toy Loan Program, Playgroups and Parent Workshops
Our nation is experiencing a time of extreme financial burden, and sadly, the purchase of toys has become unaffordable for many families. The Los Angeles Times reported in May 2009 that there had been a 30 percent increase in usage among existing toy loan programs throughout Los Angeles County in one year. “We have had a toy loan program as a goal for a long time, and this seemed like the perfect time to reach out to our community,” says Koch-Young Resource Center Director Rose Chacana.
So this fall, Lanterman’s Resource Center opened for circulation a brand new section of their already well established library collection. This section featured neither books nor videos, but developmental toys. Busy Resource Center staff had spent the summer researching, ordering, cataloging and sorting close to 150 toys that are now available to be checked out for two weeks at a time. The toy collection can be viewed online at http://library.lanterman.org by clicking on “Lists” followed by “Special Titles” and selecting “Toy Loan Program,” and children returning 10 toys promptly and in good condition will also earn a prize.
The importance of play in child development is becoming more and more indisputable as scientists research the effects of play on the brain and behavior patterns from childhood through adulthood. For children with developmental delays, quality play time with parents can lead to dramatic improvements in skills such as communication, engagement, sensory awareness, cognitive ability and creativity. Parents are their child’s first teachers and playmates and play a pivotal role in providing a stimulating environment for their child. On top of the expense of purchasing appropriate toys, parents may also lack support in identifying successful play strategies for their children with special needs.
“We wanted to not only provide toys for parents,” says Toy Program Coordinator Lisa Anand, “but also to provide strategies to make playtime with their children more fun and meaningful. That is why we have established a quarterly workshop for parents and ongoing six-week parent and child playgroups.”
The goal of the workshop is to provide parents with global strategies for engaging their children and suggestions for overcoming common challenges they face when trying to play with their children with special needs.
The goal of the six-week parent and child playgroups is to expose families to a variety of play mediums, demonstrate tips for engagement and present low budget activities that can be conducted at home. These sessions will consist of small groups of families with children in the same age range, so that parents and children can practice their play skills in a supportive environment. Participants will have the opportunity to check out toys from the collection at the close of each session. Groups are multilingual and will be ongoing throughout the year and rotate age ranges.