mostlycloudy
Thursday July 30th, 2015 4:23PM

UGA students, including Gainesville freshman, make toys for kids with disabilities

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- A half-dozen children got some special early Christmas presents from a University of Georgia class this month.

For at least one of the children, the gift seemed to be a game changer.

The toy recipients live with motor disabilities that make it difficult or impossible to do things that most take for granted, such as operating an on-off button to a dancing Mickey Mouse doll.

Made by 16 UGA freshmen for a class in "assistive technology," the toys specifically made for the children came with adapted controls bigger and easier to use than the original switches.

Seeing their children play with toys made just for them brought some parents to tears.

"I'm touched," said April Moss of Woodstock, who watched with husband Clint Moss as their daughter Ari, 3, was entranced with her new toy - a board with soft plastic turning gears and colorful flashing lights.

Ari has very little muscle control, but with an adapted on-off switch made from a CD case, Ari could smack the switch to activate the toy and watch if come to life.

"For her to be able to do something functional, for her to be able to do that; this is very exciting," April Moss said.

More than just brightening the faces of six area children, the UGA freshmen who adapted the toys learned some useful skills, said Shannon Lightfoot of Gainesville.

"I learned how to solder and strip wires, and how to reconfigure a circuit board," said the student studying advertising and romance languages.

"(The class) really hit a chord with me. A couple of people in my family have disabilities and I love little kids," Lightfoot said of the course called Geeks With a Cause.

Bobby Alaimo of Gainesville took the class because it seemed more hands-on than other courses on UGA's Freshman Odyssey slate. In their first semester, all UGA freshmen are required to take one of the dozens of Odyssey classes, which pair up freshmen in small groups with UGA faculty teaching something they find interesting.

"I didn't want to sit in a classroom setting," said Alaimo, a statistics major.

Specially-adapted toys for children with motor disabilities can be expensive, easily $80 to $100, said Rebecca Brightwell, who taught the course with Zoe Stoneman, director of the Institute on Human Development and Disability at UGA.

But home-made solutions can often be cheap and easy, said Brightwell, who also conducts day-long workshops for professionals, parents and anyone else interested in low-cost adaptive technology.

Participants can learn how to make such things as a low-cost equivalent of a Smart Board, or knob extensions for a stove or washing machine using parts they can find at a hardware or electronics store.

Brightwell plans to conduct sessions on do-it-yourself assistive technology on Jan. 22 and March 12 in Athens. For more information, contact her at (706) 542-6061 or bbrightw(at)uga.edu.

© Copyright 2015 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Clermont City Councilwoman resigns
Clermont City Clerk Sandra Helton said City Councilwoman Lynn Adams submitted her resignation to the city Thursday morning.
3:51PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Supporters of Gainesville boy with rare disease to host blood drive
The family of a four-year-old Gainesville boy with a rare disease is hosting a blood drive and fundraiser to support medical needs and bills.
3:28PM ( 55 minutes ago )
Inmate dies in custody at Habersham Co. Detention Center
A Habersham County Detention Center inmate died Wednesday while in custody, according to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
By AccessWDUN Staff
3:01PM ( 1 hour ago )
Traffic, election qualifying, church rezoning decisions fill Gainesville City Council work session
Gainesville city leaders approved a couple of traffic adjustments Thursday morning at the City Council work session, and will vote on a third at their voting meeting on Tuesday.
1:27PM ( 2 hours ago )
Person of interest in custody in connection with Homer bank robbery
A person of interest is in custody in connection with a bank robbery in Homer, taken into custody shortly after 1:00 p.m.
1:20PM ( 3 hours ago )