Chester smiles as he plays with a switch adapted dinosaur toy on his wheelchair tray

Chester loves his new toys, a switch-adapted Peppa Pig doll and a switch-adapted dinosaur plush toy.

“I have never seen him laugh and giggle so much with a toy before,” his mother Cheryl shares from Miramichi, New Brunswick. “Chester loves Peppa Pig, but he has absolutely fallen in love with the dinosaur.

“He gets so excited.”

His family received the adapted toys and switches from the Stan Cassidy Centre for Rehabilitation, donated by Neil Squire’s Makers Making Change program through the #HackingForTheHolidays initiative.

Chester is five years old and has cerebral palsy. He has limited mobility and uses a wheelchair. While he has difficulty using a standard toy by himself, the switches allow him to activate the toy just by tapping the switch with the back of his hand.

While they’ve bought commercial switch toys before, they found that Chester didn’t like many of the specialized toys.

“We hunt for toys for him, and it’s so hard,” says his father Darren.

“Like the dinosaur is a toy I’ve seen at Walmart, but I would never buy it for him because he would never be able to press the buttons to control it. But once it’s converted to be adapted to be a switch toy, he can play with it like any other kid would be able to press the buttons — he can now do that with an everyday toy,” explains Cheryl.

The adapted toys allow Chester to play by himself, without the help of his parents.

“It gives him the chance to be in control of something, so he can decide when the toy is activated, he’s not waiting for us to do it,” Cheryl says. “When he’s had enough, he can stop. So it’s a chance for him to learn cause and effect.”

They are so grateful to everyone who donated, took part in, and supported the #HackingForTheHolidays campaign.

“It’s overwhelming that people have done this,” says Darren. “When you have a disabled child there’s so much pressure and so many worries, to be able to see him interacting and smiling and being able to do that by himself, through the goodness of others who thought about his need and donated, it’s absolutely priceless.”

“Thank you so much for the toys, it’s just really special for him to be able to play with them,” says Cheryl.