PMEF-funded project brings student-made toys to pediatric hospital

Penn Manor High School students recently made a special delivery to children at Pediatric Specialty Care Hospital – a collection of colorful toys they designed and created in an unusual collaboration between students who normally would not work together.

The Pediatric Toy Project, funded by a $500 PMEF Venture Grant, paired students in a technology/applied engineering course with learning support students to create toys to benefit children with significant medical challenges.

Working in teams, the Materials Design students shared their design and building knowledge with their peers to create safe, colorful, stimulating toys based on guidelines provided by the hospital, which sent a representative to meet with the students during the design phase.

The toys had to use nontoxic materials and include no sharp edges, with soft-close lids and other safety features. They also had to be stimulating to the senses, with distinct textures and sounds, bright colors and recognizable shapes.

The building materials mostly included wood and Plexiglas, purchased with grant funds.

“The project gave all the students a new experience they would not have gotten without this project,” said Alisha Gerhart, who teaches the Materials Design and Production class. “It brought two groups of students together that normally would not be in the same course.”

Gerhart collaborated with learning support teacher Michelle Wagner to create the project.

Over several months, students designed, built, tested and painted their toys before delivering them to the Lancaster pediatric hospital on March 1. They got to interact with the children and staff members – an unforgettable experience for many.

“This experience has allowed me to appreciate what I have in my life,” said Mitchell Martin, a junior. “These kids don’t get to go home every day and be with their families. The experience that I had to give these kids joy with the toys that we made is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I was glad to be a part of it.”

Senior Kayla Hansen also was touched by the experience.

“Knowing that we will put a smile on those kids’ faces is the reward for our time and effort put into this project,” she said.

Gerhart said the class was a great learning experience, on many levels.

“This was an incredible opportunity for students to problem solve, work collaboratively, and do good within the local community,” she said.

Other students who took part in the project were Kyle Ament, Aidan Clark, Jonathan DiStefano, Josiah Edwards, Aaron Gale, Bryce Hanna, Kayla Hansen, Quinton James, Mitchell Martin, Cale Rehm, Julio Sepulveda, Brandon Singer, Toby Singer, Brandon Weitzel, Breanna Yanas, Cole Yecker, Tevonte Abernathy, Jose Alicea, Destinee Clinton, Madeline Gonzalez, Graylin Hyson, Victoria Kennedy, Cheyenne Reimer and Zana Yalch.

Congratulations to students and teachers for their effort on such a worthwhile project!

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