‘When the kids see them, they see themselves’: Toy Like Me program modifies toys for children with disabilities

Roanoke College volunteers modified around 400 toys for kids this year

SALEM, Va. – There was a special delivery at Virginia Heights Elementary School Tuesday morning as Roanoke College students hand-delivered gifts to kids, but they weren’t your average toys.

The toys are donated through a volunteer-driven campus partnership called Toy Like Me, which modifies toys for children with disabilities.

“When we modify a toy we use household items, a lot of these hearing aids are just buttons, but when the kids see them, they see themselves,” said Frances McCutcheon, Roanoke College Lecturer of Biology.

Whether it’s hearing aids, cochlear implants, or other modifications, the toys are a way to make every child feel accepted and included.

“It’s so personalized, and it’s so special and impactful for them to see something that they love that looks similar to them and has equipment like they do,” said Anne Travers, Virginia Heights teacher of deaf and hard of hearing students.

Students in Roanoke College’s Toy Like Me program modified around 400 toys this year and said it’s more than providing a gift for the holidays – it’s about representation.

“It’s really always interested me to work with kids with disabilities to try to give them a voice,” said Victoria Falb, Vice President of Toy Like Me.

“I’ve already had so much fun with the kids and have learned so much about Pikachu and all the different toys so it’s been awesome, it’s been a great experience,” said Hope Keller, President of Toy Like Me.

An experience the kids will never forget.

About the Author

Alyssa Rae grew up in Roanoke and graduated from Virginia Tech. An avid sports fan, she spent her first 8 years in TV as a sports anchor and reporter.

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