Playthings For Special Needs Children

Filed under: Commack,Commack School District |


Real Problems, Real Solutions Team With Advisors

 A group of Commack students who are members of the high school’s “Real Problems, Real Solutions Team” designed and built one-of-a-kind playthings for the children at United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Children’s Center in Commack.

Children At Water Table

To say the plaything designs are unusual is an understatement. The team’s Sensory Circus, Textra-ments, RGB Machine (golf balls), Water Play Table, and Push and Pulley contraptions are imagination brought to reality. The team’s ideas and concepts in final form now enthrall, stimulate, and teach the youngsters with handicaps at UCP.

There was a special school assembly and “unveiling” at UCP on June 14. It was the culmination of more than a year of effort by the team. Commack senior Andrew Franceschina demonstrated the interactive features of each of the beautifully crafted gadgets that were mounted or installed in each section. The brightly painted Sensory Circus included a programmable computer chip that played circus music by tapping a large yellow pad. A water table, built to accommodate children in wheelchairs, as well as those who can stand, was manufactured to specifications supplied by Andrew and Chris Zaverdas.

Children at UCP try out the RGB Machine

Another musical magical adventure included a keyboard, cymbal, and shape/color board. The most exciting and visually stimulating devices are the Push and Pulley, complete with changeable blue and green lighting and moveable parrot and snake, and the RGB Machine, complete with red, green and blue LED colored paths for golf balls to follow, controlled by a giant touchpad that can be manipulated by a child who has physical difficulties.

The smiles and the eagerness of the children at UCP as they tried each new one-of-a-kind plaything was ample reward for the team. It was a joyous and touching experience for all present.

Funding for this project is from a $26,000 award won by the team two years ago from ING, when the team won national recognition. The team redesigned the desk, drawers, and office space for the receptionist at the Hauppauge office of UCP. Future projects are already in the works!

Photo top – The Real Problems, Real Solutions Team with advisors Richard Kurtz, Joseph Castrogivanni, and Leslie Kaplan.

Story & Photos by Brenda Lentsch

IMG_8577 – Andrew Franceschina demonstrated the musical interactive features on the “Textra-ment” board.


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