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It’s a Toy Story at the Koch-Young Resource Center Between Toy Loans, Workshops and Playgroups

If you’re ever at the Koch-Young Resource Center during one of the ongoing six-session playgroups coordinated by the Resource Center, you can’t help but notice the singing, laughing, banging on drums, and all of the other sounds that are associated with children playing and having fun.

Made possible by generous grant funding from the Fred and June MacMurray Foundation the toy loan program and playgroups have seen a very successful first six months.

Lisa Anand, program coordinator, explains, “The program was created with the population of nearly 1,800 children under the age of 5 served by Lanterman in mind. Research has proven how critical and formative these first five years are for children, the vital role of play in their development, and how early intervention can make a marked difference on the long term prospects for children with special needs. In these tough economic times, when family finances are stretched, our goal is to reach out to those 1,800 families and show them the skills they need to better engage and stimulate their children, as well as make available toys for loan that many financially hard shipped families would not otherwise have access to. We have established an impressive collection of developmental toys and implemented free parent workshops, facilitator-led play groups for parents and their young children and quarterly story-time events.”

There are now 250 toys in the lending program that are available for circulation and during the last six months, more than 200 toys have been borrowed by 60 patrons. The collection of play-related library items, including print and DVD materials has grown to over 60 items. Both the toys and related library materials can be viewed online at

The one-hour play workshops highlighting strategies such as playing at the child’s level, following their lead, establishing trust, supporting their ideas/interests, narrating what is happening, modeling skills or ideas, being playful and silly, using music and movement, and challenging a child’s play by gradually adding barriers to encourage them to move to the next level have been seen by 25 families. Two additional workshops are scheduled, one in June and the other in the fall. View the June 7, 2011 workshop flyer

The six-week parent-child play groups cover six areas of play: sensory, music, arts and crafts, movement, outdoor, and pretend play. Each session includes songs, story-time, group activities, projects and things to take home. Since September 2010, four groups have been conducted, with a total of 25 participating families. Sessions were conducted in English and Spanish concurrently for various age ranges between 1½ and 5 years of age and at various days and times to accommodate the needs of the community.

View additional pictures from the toy playgroups and program

There are four more groups planned for the remainder of 2011.
View the playgroup schedule

Here are some anonymous comments from parent participants surveyed upon completion of the group:

  • “My son really enjoyed the play group. He got interested in the music (Stop and Go song, Bingo and the other songs). I am happy with all the things in the play group.”
  • “It was a wonderful experience. [My child] looked forward to coming every week.”
  • “The play group was great! I am glad I was part of it. Thank you. I hope to participate in future play groups. The kids love it.”

Recent partnerships with local high schools have also provided educational and skill building opportunities for students who volunteer to work with children with special needs and their parents through the program.

For more information about the toy loan program, or to sign up for one of the workshops or playgroups, contact Program Coordinator Lisa Anand at 213.252.8348 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).