Toy Adaptation Program

Toys for all Tots

For children with severely impaired movement or other disabilities, the simple act of playing with a toy can be a huge motivation. And yet, there is an acute shortage of toys for children with special needs to activate on their own.

How you can help

Toys for All Tots, a student organization at the University of Rochester, accepts lightly used or new battery-operated toys, then adapts them with special switches so special needs children can use them.

This gives the children a strong sense of empowerment—and a strong motivation to develop other skills. For example, pediatric physical therapists at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the University say special needs children are motivated to practice therapy exercises such as walking across a room when they see a an adapted toy waiting for them on the other side.  Cause and effect developmental learning from activating a toy can stimulate acquiring additional skills for those with limited mobility.

Toys for All Tots, based on a program begun at Ohio State University, is also interested in reaching out to schools and other organizations, to train others to adapt the toys.

Where will the toys be used?

Golisano Hospital, which serves a large population of special needs children from across Upstate New York.

Examples of toys suitable for adapting: Toys with lights, sounds, and movement such as Tickle-Me Elmo, bubble machines, dancing plush animals, plastic bug/animal music players. Toys with simple on/off activation are easier to adapt.

To donate a toy: Toys can be mailed or dropped off at the Department of Chemical Engineering.

Department of Chemical Engineering
4510 Wegmans Hall
P.O. Box 270166
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627-0166

More Information

To learn more about participating in Toys for All Tots, contact Rachel Monfredo, lecturer for the Department of Chemical Engineering at or our student group at

To learn more about our activities and events follow us on Facebook at toyadaptionprogram.

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In the News

students help parents adapt toys at workshop

Parents learn to adapt toys for their special needs children

March 29, 2018

The Toys for All Tots student organization hosts a workshop to teach parents of special needs children how adapt battery-powered toys on their own.

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Parents showing a toy to their child

Adapted Toys Delivered to Children with Special Needs

January 9, 2018

Toys that beep. Toys that light up and sing. All adapted by engineering students for children with special needs. For parents visiting the Medical Center, taking home a toy their child can play with themselves is “really awesome.”

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Staff person holding a toy

Engineering students give special needs children the gift of play

December 21, 2017

The Toys for All Tots student organization hosts workshops to teach other students and community members how to adapt battery-powered toys so that children with limited mobility can activate them on their own.

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