Through Her Participation in this Year’s Guide, Gold Medal Gymnast Helps Inspire Kids of All Abilities, Including Special Olympics Young Athletes
Company Unveils First-Ever App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, Building on Tradition of Providing Toy Recommendations for Customers Shopping for Children with Special Needs
Today, Toys“R”Us, Inc. announced the release of the 2013 Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids®, an easy-to-use toy selection resource for those who know, love and shop for children with special needs. This annual, complimentary shopping guide is available now in Toys“R”Us® and Babies“R”Us® stores nationwide and online, in both English and Spanish, at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. This year’s edition features 2012 All-Around gymnastics gold medalist Gabrielle “Gabby” Douglas on the cover, alongside Special Olympics Young Athletes, Isabella Caesar and Samuel Lopez.
Building on its nearly 20-year tradition of providing parents, caregivers and gift-givers with reliable toy recommendations for children with special needs, through this year’s Guide, Toys“R”Us has introduced its first-ever Toys“R”Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids. Understanding the growing influence of technology during playtime, the App Guide currently features a selection of 25 apps identified to help children with special needs further develop key skills.
“At Toys“R”Us, we understand the undeniable joy of watching a child overcome obstacles and experience victories through the magic of play, whether they’re learning to catch and throw a ball, role-playing through dress-up, playing a board game with siblings or learning the ABC’s on their very first tablet,” said Kathleen Waugh, Chairman of the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund. “Building on our mission to help parents make informed toy-buying decisions with the Guide, we are pleased to introduce a complimentary Toys“R”Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids.”
“Having started gymnastics at a very young age, with cartwheels in the backyard and splits on the couch, I came to understand the importance of teamwork and the influence that positive play can have on a child,” said Gabby Douglas. “My experience at the 2012 Olympic Games was very special, and through my support of this year’s Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, I’m so excited to help children of all abilities have their own magical moments. With this great resource, parents can find toys that build key skills and help children reach new milestones, all while having fun!”
Through her support of this year’s Guide, Gabby Douglas is also helping to cheer on aspiring Special Olympics athletes. The Special Olympics Young Athletes program introduces kids to the world of sports and offers children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, ages 2-7, the opportunity to play, compete and grow, while developing critical early cognitive, social and motor skills. The Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund has provided ongoing grants to Special Olympics to support the national expansion of Special Olympics’ Young Athletes program. Most recently, it pledged $1 million to become a Founding Partner of the 2014 Special Olympics USA Games and Presenting Sponsor of the first-ever Young Athletes Festival, which will provide children and their families the opportunity to take part in the Young Athletes program, free health screenings, family seminars and more. The 2014 Special Olympics USA Games will be hosted by New Jersey from June 14 – 21, 2014.
Introducing All-New Toys“R”Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids
This year, Toys“R”Us has partnered with Wynsum Arts, a social enterprise dedicated to making app discovery and mobile technology accessible to children of all abilities, to identify apps that are most appropriate for children who have special needs. Using the skills platform criteria featured in the trusted Guide, 25 apps were selected to create the company’s first-ever Toys“R”Us App Guide for Differently-Abled Kids, available online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled.
Parents and caregivers can determine their child’s specific skill-building needs, and then sort through the 25 apps for the most relevant fit. Like those toys featured within the Guide, at least two, color-coded skill-building icons are assigned to each app, which help users easily identify those most suitable for the child for whom they’re shopping. Apps featured within the 2013 App Guide include Swapsies – Occupations, PicSay – Photo Editor, Learning Letters for Kids, Bubble Buster and Cookie Dunk Jump, among many others. All apps featured within this helpful resource can be found in the Google Play Store for Android or the App Store for iOS.
Toy Recommendations and Helpful Tips Courtesy of the Guide
Serving as a trusted resource for family, friends and caregivers of children with special needs, the Guide is filled with everyday playthings selected as appropriate in helping kids build critical skills and reach new milestones during playtime. Each of the nearly 100 toys featured in the 68-page toy-buying guide has been selected in partnership with the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making play accessible for children of all abilities. To help alleviate the guesswork of choosing a toy appropriate for a child’s specific needs, each toy is paired with skill-building icons, which help users easily identify toys most suitable for the child they’re shopping for. Following are select examples of toys featured in the 2013 Guide, corresponding to each of the ten skills:
· Auditory: Laugh & Learn Sing with Me CD Player from Fisher-Price®
· Creativity: Chuggington Die Cast Ready to Race Engines from TOMY®
· Fine Motor: Stack ’n Stay Hamburger Set from Step 2®
· Gross Motor: You & Me 35” Dance with Me Ballerina Doll from Toys“R”Us®
· Language: Touch Magic Learning Bus from LeapFrog®
· Self Esteem: Deluxe Color-Reveal Scratch Art Set from Melissa & Doug®
· Social Skills: The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game from Educational Insights®
· Tactile: Plush Patrick the Pup Vet Kit from FAO Schwarz®
· Thinking: Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Bag Play Set from Just Play™
· Visual: TotSports Clearly Bowling Set from Little Tikes®
In addition to toy recommendations, parents will also find value in the Guide’s “Top Ten Tips for Buying Toys,” prepared by the National Lekotek Center, as well as “Safe Play Tips for Children with Special Needs,” which were created with guidance from leading safety and special needs organizations to help kids avoid playtime injuries.
A Virtual Guide Experience for Online Shoppers
Customers who prefer to browse the catalog and make purchases from their own homes can also take advantage of the shop-by-skill option online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. Through this dedicated microsite, shoppers can narrow the selection of the toys by refining their search by a specific skill. Shoppers can view the digital, flippable version of the Guide in both English and Spanish.
Toys“R”Us will provide its followers on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest with product highlights from the Guide throughout the year and provide play and toy-buying tips for children with special needs. The company will also highlight exclusive content on its social media channels, including a special video message from Gabby Douglas, behind-the-scenes footage and photos from the cover shoot.
Company’s Ongoing Commitment to the Special Needs Community
Through the Toys“R”Us Children’s Fund, a public charity affiliated with the company, Toys“R”Us, Inc. has long supported the special needs community. Organizations that receive support include: American Society for Deaf Children, Autism Speaks, Best Buddies, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Eva’s Heroes, HollyRod Foundation, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Down Syndrome Society, National Lekotek Center, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, Special Olympics, Spina Bifida Association and United Cerebral Palsy.