Toys"R"Us, Inc. has enlisted Whoopi Goldberg to appear on the cover of its 2009 Toys"R"Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids.
The annual selection guide, which matches specific skill sets with toys, is available in Toys"R"Us and Babies"R"Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled, in both English and Spanish. The Web site includes a video featuring Goldberg talking about why the guide is a "great resource for anybody who wants to help a kid with special needs learn and succeed while playing with siblings and friends."
The guide will be promoted to in-store customers via poster displays, said Adrienne Giordano, a Toys"R"Us spokesperson. "Additionally, the guide will be featured in Toys"R"Us newspaper inserts on Sept. 6 and Sept. 20," she says. "Toys"R"Us customers will also receive an email notification about the 2009 guide around Aug. 25."
Goldberg, a mother and grandmother, is featured on the cover along with Grace Kurowski, a five-year-old girl from Skillman, N.J. This year the guide features a special section dedicated to providing critical safety tips to help parents and caregivers avoid playtime injuries. The 2009 edition also includes updated features and an enhanced Web site.
The online guide allows shoppers to search by skill, price and age range to select and purchase toys directly from the digital pages of the guide. This year, personal commentary from families of children who served as models for the guide is incorporated into the updated online Web site.
Research shows accidental injuries occur more frequently among children with special needs, and most significantly among children with cognitive, emotional or social limitations. To help those who care for a differently abled child prevent accidental injuries during playtime, the new guide features safe play tips for children with special needs. Tips range from basic advice about supervision to suggestions for effective communication.
Since 1994, Toys"R"Us, Inc. has partnered with the National Lekotek Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making the world accessible to children of all abilities, to assess the play value of hundreds of toys for children with special needs. Through therapeutic play sessions, the National Lekotek Center assigns at least two skill-building traits to each toy that appears in the guide. Color-coded symbols signify the specific benefits of each item.
For example, for auditory development, the Rock 'n Rollin' Piano from Sakar is recommended. For creativity, the guide suggests Fold & Go Barn from Melissa & Doug. To help children work on their fine motor skills, the guide suggests My First Duplo Set from LEGO. For self-esteem issues, the guide recommends Yo Gabba Gabba Muno's Groovin' Guitar from Spin Master. For social skills, Spongebugs Kids Fun Bowling Set from Gamenamics is suggested.
The guide also includes a list of the "Top Ten Tips for Buying Toys" from the National Lekotek Center.
Toys"R"Us, Inc. has a long history of supporting the special needs community through the Toys"R"Us Children's Fund, a public charity affiliated with the company. Organizations that receive support include: American Society for Deaf Children, Autism Speaks, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Muscular Dystrophy Association, National Down Syndrome Society, National Lekotek Center, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Organization of Parents of Blind Children, Special Olympics, Spina Bifida Association and United Cerebral Palsy.