HABA is happy to introduce our HABA Play Day program for children with special needs from the National Lekotek Center. The non-profit Lekotek Center provides therapeutic play and support services to children and their families. For the next four months HABA (in partnership with Lekotek) will pick one very special child and their family to profile as part of our HABA Play Day series. We will profile children both on our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, & Pinterest) and this blog to tell you more about children with special needs and how toys and games paired with therapy helps these children thrive. According to Macy Kaiser, Director of the National Lekotek Center, “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.” At HABA, our toy inventors use their vast experience and creativity to create products for children of all capacities. Children use toys and play to make sense of the world. No matter the obstacles children with special needs may encounter, play creates endless possibilities for expression and development. That is why HABA has partnered with Lekotek Centers—to create enjoyable experiences to give courageous children opportunities to explore and create. First up, Abbie from Illinois! The team at Lekotek describes her as an energetic fashionista who loves the color pink and her playful attitude is contagious. We sent Abbie our HABA Stacking Toy Zoolino, this toy offers both the opportunity to develop fine motor skills with cute stackable blocks and incentivizes children to get up and move around with the pull string and wheeled base. Abbie has Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, a metabolic disorder caused by a chromosome abnormality. Abbie and other people with SLOS are unable to make enough cholesterol to support normal growth, which is vital to brain development. There is no cure for those with SLOS. People afflicted with this syndrome can experience a normal life expectancy, however living independent is unlikely. Her mother Carrie said in Facebook post, “Our angel Abbie really is a miracle! She has had 21 surgeries and is only 4 years old. These surgeries also impact children with SLOS's growth and development. Despite having had such severe surgeries, she is such a sweetie that puts a smile on anyone that knows her!” Abbie has a team of therapists and doctors that assist her as she reaches developmental milestones. The last couple weeks have not been easy for Abbie and she has undergone another surgery. Her mother Carrie shared with us that progress doesn’t show up every day; some days are challenging. In an email reply Carrie said, “Between having surgery to fix a bowel obstruction to very recent issues with her circulation, our princess is not quite herself. Her feet have been turning a dark purple and we have been nonstop at doctors to try to figure it out. Because of this, Abbie has intermittent pain as well as not being as mobile as she usually is. The HABA toy has been great since she is mostly sitting or crawling now. It creates that smile on Abbie's face that we all know and love despite her not being herself. She still loves when I make it go fast! She does it too and loves when it crashes! So despite our rough past weeks, this HABA toy can still put a smile on our angel's face.” At HABA, we support all children on their path through life and believe that engaged play helps them grow into happy people. Stay tuned to our Facebook page to learn more about Abbie and others in our HABA Play Day series. Learn more about Lekotek by connecting to their Facebook page and going to their website.