Adaptive toys on loan at Oak Bay library

Greater Victoria Public Library launches Skill Builders for all children

Rina Hadziev

A new Skill Builders Adaptive Toy collection in the Greater Victoria Public Library will provide families with children who have cognitive, physical, sensory or communicative challenges the opportunity to borrow accessible toys at the Oak Bay branch.

Rina Hadziev, Collections and Technical Services Co-ordinator, is proud of the collection, calling it one of the “more special” in their vast offering. “I like it when we stretch ourselves,” she said. “The focus is really on play. Parents and caregivers and kids playing together has value in itself,” she said.

Each of the light plastic totes holds three to five toys, a fidget and a book or CD.

It has an information sheet of ideas to use the toys and many resources for children with developmental issues. The totes come in three sizes, with the smallest the same as a Stories to Go box, which parents may already know.

“We wanted to have a range of materials. It was more important to us to have the correct material, than have it fit in a specific bin,” she said. “For us, it was about the quality.”

The collection is designed to have parents and caregivers play with kids developing essential auditory, visual, tactile senses as well as fine motor, gross motor, hand-eye co-ordination and even communication skills.

“A lot of these are pre-literacy skills,” Hadziev said.

A Victoria Foundation grant funded the program to fill what Hadziev said they found was “a real gap” when looking at toy lending options in the region.

“The Victoria Foundation just got it. We’re so lucky to have a group like that in town,” she said.

The collection was created with input from the Island Health, Early Intervention Program located at the Queen Alexandra Centre for Children’s Health.

“We were fortunate enough to have the chance to see this new collection develop and grow,” said Megan Staniforth, a Speech-Language Pathologist at the Queen Alexandra Centre. “We provided input on the kinds of materials that encourage children’s development through play.”

Alongside the child development quotient, each toy had to fit the criteria of sturdy, washable and simply fun to fit into the lending program.

“We ask that people wipe them down before they return them, but we also wipe them down,” Hadziev said.

Even before the new collection was officially launched last week, 50 of the 74 were routinely on loan.

“There’s not a long wait at this point,” Hadziev said. Like much of the traditional GVPL collection, the Skill Builders collection can be reserved online and picked up and returned at any branch in the GVPL.

“There are kids that need this collection, we developed it with them in mind first,” she said. “(But) our whole intention with this collection is anyone can enjoy it. Every kid can enjoy playing with their parents or caregivers. It’s also a great idea for someone coming for a visit.”

Visit gvpl.ca and search “skill builders” to learn more about the boxes available or see images of each kit.