Adaptive toy library coming to Naperville
A new type of library is coming to Naperville and this one focuses on toys.
The Lekotek toy library will provide specialized therapeutic play sessions and loans of adaptive toys for kids with special needs when it opens this September at Naperville Park District's 95th Street Center.
The Western DuPage Special Recreation Association is launching the program, which will be the fifth Lekotek toy library in the state and the first outside of Cook County, said Dayell Houzenga, WDSRA outreach manager.
The program, which originated in Sweden, provides information about learning through play to parents of children with special needs. Houzenga said meeting with a WDSRA staff member trained in therapeutic play will help families promote their child's development, even if he or she has physical disabilities and isn't progressing as quickly as expected.
"With a yearly membership, each family gets a once-a-month, one-hour, private, customized play session for children with special needs and their families," Houzenga said. "The idea behind that is to teach purposeful play to the parents so they can help meet developmental milestones in the home."
Some children lack the motor skills to play with toys that require them to push small buttons to see lights flash or hear sounds. But Houzenga said adaptive toys that will be available for checkout have features to overcome those difficulties.
Instead of a small button, adaptive toys have a large button that's 5 or 6 inches wide. Buttons on adaptive toys also are raised on an incline and some might be textured so kids can press them with a fist instead of a finger or a foot instead of a hand, Houzenga said.
Play specialists also will show parents how kids with special needs can use "off-the-shelf" toys designed for normally developing children.
Rental of up to five toys a month comes with a Lekotek membership, which will cost $25 a month. Anyone who is interested in becoming a member can contact Houzenga at (630) 681-0962 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The new toy library will be located on the second floor of the 95th Street Center at 2244 W. 95th St., next to the park district's registration office window, said Brad Wilson, director of recreation. A satellite library will be available at the WDSRA office, 116 N. Schmale Road, Carol Stream.
To create the Naperville facility, the park district amended its lease of space in the 95th Street building to add an extra 800-square-foot classroom. The new space will specifically house the Lekotek play center and toy lending space.
For children with autism who thrive on predictability and routine, and for those who might need a break from organized play, having a consistent space for the new program will be key, Houzenga said.
"We'll have an established play space to have therapeutic play stations as well as storage for the toy library," she said. "Having a dedicated space also allows us to be able to also set up a sensory station."
Roughly $18,000 a year in funds from a portion of the park district's property tax levy that is dedicated to special recreation will pay for the lease of the Lekotek classroom, Wilson said. The park district also is extending its original three-year lease of the 95th Street Center, which is inside a commercial building, for another two years, so it will run through the end of 2017.
The rent is $220,000 a year for 11,500 square feet, which houses a kitchen for culinary classes, a wood-floor dance studio, two multipurpose classrooms and two arts and crafts rooms.