At Easterseals, our mission has always been to provide exceptional services to ensure that all people with disabilities or special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work, and play in their communities. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary of service this year, we are focused on changing the way the world defines and views disability by making profound, positive differences in people’s lives every day.
Some of our most impactful projects and innovations have been made possible as a result of community partnerships such as the one we have with Comcast NBCUniversal. Last year, Comcast NBCUniversal helped Easterseals of Southeastern Pennsylvania create four makerspaces for our service centers in the Philadelphia area. Makerspaces provide 3D printers, materials and templates that enable staff and families to print solutions to every day challenges – making the world more accessible one switch, adaptive tool, or toy at a time!
From development of gross and fine motor skills to providing important vestibular input, play is therapy, and a vital component of everything we do.
We are thrilled to participate in Comcast Cares Day this year on our most innovative partnership yet as we make play more accessible by adapting three battery-operated cars and over 50 toys. This is a true team effort, bringing together Comcast engineers and expert employees; students and faculty from Jefferson University; STEM students from Science Leadership Academy; and the teams from Easterseals, to help develop specialized, battery-operated cars specifically designed for three very deserving kids.
Tyrese, age 6; Alex, age 4; and Ariel, age 4 – each have very limited mobility as a result of their disabilities. Motorized wheelchairs are not currently an option for them, which makes these battery-operated cars a great alternative to give them a sense of independence and the ability to more easily engage with their peers. Access to this type of mobility will have a positive effect on their development and help strengthen their confidence. And, some of the cars will use switches printed from our makerspaces. In addition to the custom cars, the team will also create 50 adapted toys to allow more children in our classrooms to play with toys they typically have been unable to use.
Since being at Easterseals for over 30 years, this is one of my favorite collaborations. I cannot wait to see how the children use their cars and toys, and how we can hope to use this experience to create more opportunities in the future. I am proud of our continued partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal, including their support through the Fred J. Maahs Jr. Assistive Technology Grant Fund, and more locally here through the hard work of our board member Eric Matthews, NBCUniversal Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs.
I am so honored to be part of the “village” that is helping children not only access the world around them, but to feel 100% included and 100% empowered.
Carl Webster is Executive Director and CEO of Easterseals of Southeastern Pennsylvania