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Edie Dale, program coordinator for RePlay for Kids, works with JVS ninth-graders, assisting them in adapting toys.

Ninth-grade students at the Lorain County JVS recently worked on a STEM project with a lot of meaning behind it. Deb Dohner, Lorain County JVS freshman and sophomore Career Connections lab instructor, got a call from RePlay for Kids, asking if her students would be interested in adapting some toys for kids with disabilities. Dohner didn’t hesitate.

“My background, my first job, was working at the Tuscarawas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, and this project reminded me of all the things we did there,” Dohner said. “I thought this project would be great for the ninth-grade students because honestly they are teenagers and what teenager doesn’t like to take things apart?”

She was right. Focus and thoughtfulness filled the room as students worked on different projects. “I’m soldering the wire back on to the toy and then we will plug it in to see if it will work,” said ninth-grader Cole Inman of Avon. “This project has been really fun.”

Replay adapts and distributes toys for free to help raise awareness and increase the number and variety of toys available to the children who need them, said RePlay for Kids’ Director of Operations Natalie Wardega.

Last year, RePlay for Kids adapted more than 1,900 toys.

“The Community Foundation of Lorain County provides funds for us to come into schools to teach the students STEM technology,” Wardega said. “We are taking battery-operated toys and rewiring them so that a child with disabilities, who might not have the fine-motor skills to operate the toys, will be able to use them.”

RePlay for Kids conducts hundreds of workshops every year throughout Northeast Ohio, and places such as Murray Ridge School will get the toys once they have been adapted.

“The students here at JVS are getting a great practical project to work on,” Wardega said. “It gives them something to do for their community, and it possibly gets them interested in engineering or electronics.”

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