Why this project exists

I’ll admit that far too infrequently in my life have I prioritized quality time serving my community. I’ve looked for ways to serve, but I dawdled somewhere between causes I felt where not lofty enough and time commitments I felt were impractical. I have been seeking, to paraphrase Frederick Buechner, a place where my deep passions and the world’s deep need meet.

Latch HouseWooden Submarine - CarvingWhile building last year’s Christmas toy for my kids, it was put on my heart to apply this same creative act of love towards other children. I was reminded of when I worked in a children’s hospital–there are literally hospitals full of children who could benefit from a gesture of kindness and a moment of laughing. In every community there are children who are facing the challenges of a broken world, a broken home or a broken body. If, for even just a few of them, I could build a toy that in their eyes was awesome, that would be so worth my time.

Also, being a father of a child with special needs, I have seen how not every toy is suitable for every child. Toys are generally designed for a demographic, but what if they were designed and personalized for an individual? Big toy companies wouldn’t do that, but I could. In fact, it would bring me deep gladness to do that really well.

Yet I am not out to be a modern day Santa Claus, handing out magical gifts to deserving kids. Instead of it being a hand-out, I believe the process should be relational and empowering. Perhaps I can invite the families into the process of designing toys, and even work with the children to co-create their toys.

Now, I’ll also admit that I am just one person in one location. But if this project is well received, perhaps I can connect with other creative people like me from around the world (artists, designers, developers, poets), and together we can serve our next generation with our passions for creative good.

This isn’t lofty, nor is it practical, but there is something great about that. This project is my effort to do something great in a small way for small people.

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What is it?

A Very Personal Toy

Your child will receive a custom designed, hand-made toy, and you and your child will be part of the design process.

Learning Through Play

While being designed to be simple, fun and engaging, the toy will not just be a plaything; it will have a leaning towards being educational.

Counteracting a Difficulty

Some children have special needs, while others are in difficult life situations. Sometimes a simple toy can help them smile and step forward.

How does it work?

Use the form below to recommend your child for a TailoredToy. I’ll review all applications carefully and make selections based on how strong a fit I feel there is and my ability to take on additional projects and/or travel to your location.

The project requires that I spend at least one session with the child’s parents/guardian getting to learn about the child’s story and living environment. We would then spend some time together with the child playing. Depending on the child’s age and interest, we’d spend some time learning about toy design and creating a toy together.

Cost

Currently, there’s no cost to you other than your time. You’re welcome to help cover the cost of travel, but that’s not required.

Recommended Age

0-12 years old

Examples of Kid’s Stories

Any child is a great candidate for a TailoredToy, but I have a particular heart for children who are overcoming adversity.

  • Jules is five years old and blind.
  • Cesar is 11 and learning to understand others’ emotions. His autism makes this challenging.
  • Aiden’s parents were recently divorced.
  • Roger lives in a community where most parents cannot afford new toys.

Toy Examples

  • Creative wooden toy
  • iPad apps
  • Something yet unimagined

Sponsorship

If your organization would be interested in sponsoring this project so more kids can have TailoredToys, please let me know.

Some Additional Details

  • While I will work to accommodate a child or family’s ideas and preferences where I can, I reserve the right to final say on all design matters with the project.
  • All reasonable precaution will be taken in terms of toy safety, but you must assume all responsibilities for the toy; it is provided “as-is” and without warranty (e.g. it will not have lab testing).
  • You will own the actual toy itself, but I retain the rights to the toy’s design (including all ideas/information provided, the brand, future versions, etc.).
  • I reserve the rights to share the child’s story without restriction or royalty, including pictures of your child. The story can be anonymized (e.g. fake name) if you prefer. This is in addition to the protections provided to you through the Redevised Privacy Policy
  • The child’s parents/guardian must be present for all design sessions (i.e. at no time would I work alone with the child).
  • As I learn more and work to improve the project, things might change.  Therefore, the details and terms of this project are subject to change.

Sign Up

Sign up for the opportunity to co-create a memorable, inspiring toy for your child.

Your Name

Your Email

General Location (city/state)

Relation to Child

Child's First Name

Why is this child a good candidate for this project?

I agree to the project's terms

Join In

If you like what this project is about, help out by providing your creative skills, sponsoring/donating or sending a word of encouragement.

Your Name

Your Email

Ways in which you could help out

Additional Comments

The TailoredToys Project