“When a child experiences play, he or she can depart from the world of struggles, tasks, therapies and treatments into the joyful experience of play and through that accomplish more than anyone ever dreamed possible.”
This past week I had the pleasure of speaking with Selima Hargadon at Lekotek. Selima is the Able Play™ coordinator at the National Center in Chicago. As we spoke, I was so inspired and encouraged to learn more about how this wonderful organization shares FATWHEELS’ passion for helping individuals with special needs reach their full potential.
Lekotek is a nonprofit that provides an array of services to improve the lives of children with special needs through the utilization of toys and play.
The first Lekotek was begun in Sweden in 1963 by parents of children with disabilities. They coined the word “Lekotek,” using the Swedish root word “lek,” meaning toy or play, and the Greek suffix “tek” that connotes library.
Lekotek was established in the United States in Evanston, Illinois, in 1980 by two special educators.
Lekotek Centers Offer: (varies per Lekotek site location)
- Play Sessions & Playgroups
- Toy Lending Library
- Compuplay – (adaptive and assistive technology, iPads)
- Parent Support
- Professional Toy Lending
- Toy Evaluations and Ratings
- Toy Industry Consulting
- AblePlay/Great Finds
- Training – Professionals or Parents
Affiliate Play Centers
Lekotek has affiliate sites in 8 states, (including Michigan), but there is a need to service more children in more areas. Starting a Lekotek site can interest individuals, groups or organizations. There is a simple Litmus test you can take to decide whether or not you or your organization is a good fit for starting an affiliate site:
The Passion Test
|Have a special interest in children with disabilities?||Yes||No|
|Love playing with children?||Yes||No|
|Understand the therapeutic value of play?||Yes||No|
|Realize children can grow and develop through play?||Yes||No|
|Wish to eliminate play deprivation for children with special needs?||Yes||No|
|Want to use play as a vehicle of inclusion?||Yes||No|
|Believe in encouraging strong family involvement through play?||Yes||No|
If you or your organization would like more information about starting a Lekotek affiliate site contact:
Executive Director Kathryn Lavin, National Lekotek Center (773-528-5766 ext. 408) firstname.lastname@example.org
To view the AblePlay™ Toy Guide for Children of All Abilities visit: