Saturday, November 11, 2023 - Saturday, May 25, 2024
Weekly on Saturday
- 9 - 11 a.m.
Toy Like Me at Roanoke College invites students to volunteer with local people with disabilities who are learning adaptive sports in the MAPLE'S Kids (Multiple Adaptive Play Experiences in Sport) program.
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Toy Like Me at Roanoke College invites students to volunteer with local people with disabilities who are learning adaptive sports in the MAPLE’S Kids (Multiple Adaptive Play Experiences in Sports) program.
MAPLE’S Kids is an extension of Toy Like Me at Roanoke College, a charitable group within the College that modifies toys to match children with disabilities; where Toy Like Me works to expand the inclusive toy box, MAPLE’S Kids works to expand the inclusive sandbox.
For students, MAPLE’S Kids can fulfill necessary contact hours for the HEXS, Disability Studies and other health care programs.
The program also supports the College's larger goals of strengthening bonds with our surrounding community. In MAPLE’S Kids, people with disabilities, as well as their families, get to experience adaptive sports, build community and promote good physical and mental well-being.
MAPLE’S Kids Goals
1. For children to see themselves reflected in active society.
Sports should be universal. Opportunities to take part in sports improve a child’s sense of self and capability. The importance of this mission has been recognized by a growing number of organizations, such as the U.S. Tennis Association, which is now integrating its "regular" and "adapted" departments.
In MAPLE’S Kids, children also have opportunities to meet other people with disabilities, including adults who are active and living independently. Local nonprofit Wheel Love, whose members include retired military members, has become an active part of MAPLE's Kids and we hope to encourage more of those partnerships.
2. To provide opportunities to bring children into health care compliance.
It's recommended that we get 20-30 minutes of exercise daily, but for many people with disabilities, there are no places to "run" or "race." Most playgrounds are inaccessible or limited in options for active play. Outdoor elements also can have a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, even in fair weather. Many seizure medications , for example, make sun and heat exposure dangerous.
A large, open gym provides a safe, welcoming place to play, explore and move. In a gym, a person can throw a ball without worrying about hitting grandma’s favorite lamp or can race a friend for more than three "pushes" to cross the room. A large, open space makes an active lifestyle possible and promotes mental well-being.
3. To support parents and siblings.
Medical privacy laws keep people with disabilities in silos, so therapists can't introduce parents to other families with similar journeys who might be able to offer support and mentoring. MAPLE’s Kids can be that avenue for connection. Families of people with disabilities are too often isolated and limited in opportunities for social interactions. It's vital to the well-being of parents and siblings to be able to talk with others with shared experiences and know that there is a community to which they belong.
Adaptive sports also allow parents and siblings to see their loved one with disabilities as CAPABLE. At Toy Like Me's annual wheelchair basketball tournament two years ago, a mother whose 4-year-old son had just become a wheelchair user told us that seeing active adults and children in wheelchairs had given them hope and that they were going to look for more opportunities for their family to fully live and find happiness.
4. To enhance career development of Roanoke College students.
We are growing Roanoke’s connections with Carilion Clinic (Oncology, Children’s Hospital, Children’s Pediatric Medicine), C.A.T.S. or Children’s Assistive Technology Service, Roanoke Rail Yard Dawgs, Virginia Tech Wheelchair Tennis, Radford University Carilion (Nursing, Physical Therapy), Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, local nonprofit Wheel Love, national nonprofit Wake the World, and other community partners.
As we build connections, we build opportunities for Roanoke students to job shadow, find gainful employment, and gain access to leaders in graduate programs and medical schools.