“Play Connects” Impacts … The Magic House – St. Louis Children’s Museum

June 22, 2012 | The Toy Industry Foundation’s (TIF) Play Connects program invites Toy Industry Association (TIA) member companies from across the nation to nominate charities in their own communities to receive grant funding. In 2011, four nominated charities were selected to receive $10,000 each to help at-risk children through play, education and mentorship programs. Over the course of the summer, Toy News Tuesday will be profiling the charities that received grants to showcase how the funds are making an important difference in children’s lives. 

St. Louis, Missouri’s renowned children’s museum, The Magic House, is one of the four 2011 Play Connects grant winners nominated by TIA member companies. The Magic House’s “Special Nights for Special Needs” program, nominated by Cepia LLC, provides private evenings at the museum for organizations serving children with physical and developmental challenges. The $10,000 grant awarded by TIF has enabled the museum to host these evenings for 10 different non-profit organizations throughout 2012, free of charge.  

An estimated 4,000 children will benefit from visiting The Magic House during “Special Nights for Special Needs.” Walker Scottish Rite Clinic, Delta Gamma Center, March of Dimes, Down Syndrome Association of Greater St. Louis, and most recently, TouchPoint Autism Services have already enjoyed their special nights this year. On Wednesday, June 13th, 300 children, parents and siblings impacted by autism explored the museum in a quiet setting, ideal for their learning styles. [View photos from TouchPoint Autism’s visit to The Magic House, courtesy of Play Connects funding.]

Throughout the remainder of 2012, five more organizations will reap the benefits of “Special Nights with Special Needs”: Pujols Family Foundation, Friends of Kids with Cancer, Disabled Athlete Sports Association, American Diabetes Association, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital Neurorehabilitation Unit. Each organization strives to enrich the lives of the children they serve with recreational and educational opportunities.

“Our common commitment to bring joy, comfort, and learning to children in need made the Special Night for Special Needs program an ideal match for TIF,” shared Foundation Manager Marisa Medina. “We’re proud to partner with The Magic House to ensure thousands of children can enjoy the museum in an accessible environment.”

“Many of our participants have mobility issues and utilize wheelchairs and walkers,” said Katie Sachs from Disabled Athletes Sports Association. “This Special Night will allow them the freedom and space to move about and explore the building without having to deal with large crowds.”

As a youth museum, The Magic House generally draws in large crowds during public hours, which can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate for children with a variety of disabling conditions.  The program allows groups serving children with special needs to have the museum all to themselves, giving them a chance to socialize, explore, and learn together in an accessible environment where all children can play.

The 2012 Play Connects grant cycle is now open; the nomination period closes on August 15, 2012. Each TIA member company (full or associate) in good standing can nominate one community-based charity. Up to three grant recipients will be chosen by a committee comprised of members from the TIF Board of Trustees. For more information, visit the Toy Industry Foundation website.