A member of the National Lekotek Center, Lurie Children's Lekotek center, called Jackie's Toy Chest, is run by certified child life specialists who have additional training as Lekotek leaders. They work in conjunction with rehabilitative therapies to use play to bring families of children with special needs together. We provide support, information and specialty services to help children with disabilities participate in the full range of family life.
Though every child has the natural inclination to play and have fun, sometimes disabilities prevent children from fully immersing themselves in playful experiences. It's important to work past those barriers because play lays the foundation for kids to reach physical, cognitive and social goals.
Lekotek uses the developmentally beneficial aspects of play to help support families of children with disabilities. Playtime can relieve families' stress, solidify important emotional bonds and normalize routines.
Our monthly, outpatient one-hour guided play sessions are led by Lekotek leaders to help facilitate interactive play among parents and siblings. We emphasize creative use of toys and simple toy modifications to meet the individual needs of families. All family members are encouraged to participate in these individualized sessions so they can learn the best techniques and ways to incorporate the activities into their daily lives.
At the end of the session, we lend families both adapted and traditional toys, free of charge, so they can practice the movements and skill development we reviewed during our session.
We are also available to support our inpatient families by assessing and supporting the child's developmental functioning and their ability to access toys. We recognize that play is critical to normalizing a child's world and helping caregivers stay connected to their children, so our Lekotek program bridges the gap that hospitalization can often create.
Lurie Children's is the only hospital in the world that has both an outpatient and inpatient Lekotek program. We can support your child at their bedside or in a private play space, providing them with an individualized play plan to enhance their overall development.
To make a referral or obtain more information about the Lekotek Program at Lurie Children's, please contact Beth Ryan at 312.227.6398.
Beth Ryan is a senior child life specialist and also the Lekotek Program Coordinator. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Michigan State University and a master's degree in education from Loyola/ Erikson Institute in Chicago.
She is the recipient of the Julie Foster Porter Outstanding Employee award and has served patients and their families at Lurie Children's for 15 years.
Our one-of-a-kind Lekotek Center is entirely philanthropically funded, and we are always looking for new adapted toys. Visit our wish list to learn more about how you can help support our program through gift card donations.