Emma Pablo test drives her new adaptive toy appropriately named EMMA, which was produced by Hargrove engineers + Constructors. (Contributed photo)
MOBILE, Ala. – Business Council of Alabama member Hargrove Engineers + Constructors recently unveiled its Hargrove Adaptive Toy, a product initiative that is dedicated to filling the gap for adaptive toys among mobility limited children.
Last December, Hargrove Instrumentation Engineer Michelle Jones, P.E., met Stefanie Pablo during a field trip with her son and while there shared her daughter, Emma’s, special mobility needs. Jones took the initiative and used her engineering expertise to assist children like Emma.
On Oct. 20, “EMMA” – Engineered Machine for Mobility and Access named in honor of Hargrove’s first recipient, Emma Pablo – was unveiled to the 11-year-old girl and her family. The event included a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the launch of harGIVES (Hargrove Innovative Volunteer Engineering Services), a new volunteer organization that provides the means and opportunity to give back to the community using Hargrove teammates’ engineering and technical expertise.
“After hearing Emma’s story, I knew there had to be a way we could help,” said Jones. “I contacted our President and CEO Ralph Hargrove that afternoon. His response was immediate and supportive. The goal was to build something that would enrich Emma’s life and provide her access to the tools she needed to learn to move around in space and control her environment. I began to reach out to fellow engineers and designers whom I knew would share in this vision. We worked to modify an off-the-shelf toy car… and once we saw the look on her face during a sit test, we knew it was worth it.”
Many mobility-limited children do no not qualify for an insurance-provided electric wheelchair, as they must prove their ability to independently control the chair before they can receive aid. These adaptive EMMAs will provide convenient, accessible pathways for development of the necessary skills to meet insurance requirements, Hargrove said.
Studies have shown that the ability to control one’s movement through space has a direct impact on social, cognitive, and speech skills. Providing mobility limited children with access to these adaptive toy EMMAs has the potential for additional life-changing impacts. Each EMMA can be customized with head switches, joysticks, and push buttons to accommodate individual needs.
Future recipients of single-function EMMAs will be randomly selected. As of Jan. 1, 2017, physical therapists will have the ability to submit applications for potential users.
Adaptive toys are functional and fun toys often with enlarged pieces and that can utilize flashing lights, sound, and music to offer mental, physical, social, and psychological benefits for children with disabilities.