Carolina Adapt Toys for Kids | Children with disabilities receive toys designed for them by UNC engineering students | Jobs Vox


CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) — Students on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill are using their engineering skills to give back in a unique way.

When Santa has too many Christmas requests for children in North Carolina who have special needs, he calls Carolina Adopts Toys for Children. It is a student-led organization that doubles as Santa’s workshop for making wishes.

“We catch the kids who fall through the cracks of mainstream toy design,” said Darcy Anderson, a senior studying biomedical engineering. “That way a child in a wheelchair can push a button and the toy will still move because they can’t land.”

On any given day you can find a few dozen students in the basement of Phillips Hall modifying toys to make them more accessible to children with disabilities. They add large buttons or switches.

“Michael Weaver, the main founder of the organization, suffers from cerebral palsy. As a child, he was not able to play with most commercially manufactured toys,” said Rohan Krishnan, a senior research fellow in biomedical engineering. “I saw it as a way to develop new skills that I found myself using a lot while having wider reach or influence.”

Students work throughout the year to hold bake sales and community benefit nights to make money to buy the toys.

“It was a really rewarding experience to see them interact with the toys, which we spent an entire semester modifying,” Krishnan said.

This year the organization donated 54 modified toys to six local locations, including elementary schools and centers for developmental disabilities.

“It’s really validating what we’re doing. It felt so important to see the impact they’re having on their lives,” he said. “It makes the effort of the last four years totally worth it.”

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