Kymberly Martin
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WA’s oldest toy library turns 45

The Kites Toybox Library in Perth, that provides specialised toys on loan for children with a disability, has just celebrated its 45th anniversary. The library started life in 1975 when it was known as Noah’s Ark Toy Library before it became the Activ Learning and Discovery Centre (ALDC).

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It has had a chequered history because of funding. Parents organised a petition which collected 25,000 signatures when it was under threat from closure a few years ago. The resource has moved around a lot but is now thriving as Kites Toybox Library in Victoria Park.

And while services are slowly getting back to normal in this Covid-19 era, appointments are necessary with strict guidelines in place and van operations have been put on hold.  

The library stocks a variety of toys to suit children with different needs including constructive toys for motor development, sensory toys and activities. There are also toys for imaginative play, self-awareness, switches and adapted resources.  Health professionals can help parents select suitable toys and provide coaching sessions. It’s also a place where parents can talk openly about challenges they may face looking after a child with a disability.

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Former board member and occupational therapist, Shirley McInnes, has a long-standing history with the service. She was invited to visit the Kites Toybox Library, which moved to its new home in March in Sunbury Road in Victoria Park.

“It’s lovely to see all the toys in their new surroundings. I can’t believe there are now 4,500 toys here. There are so many more from when I was first involved 40 years ago,” she said. “Toys and play are a great combination for helping children to improve muscle tone and strength and to reach their own personal goals. It’s lovely to see this iconic service be updated and revitalised.” McInnes said.

McInnes was joined on her tour by Sue Glasson, a previous manager of Noah’s Ark. “It’s been updated and revitalised and I love that the Kites Toybox van was touring local playgroups and will also be visiting schools in the future,” Glasson said.

Items are available for loan and pick up from the library while membership fees are kept low and can be paid for via an NDIS plan.

The library is part of Kites children therapy, which specialises in early childhood intervention offering a range of therapies for children. It also incorporates dog-assisted therapy using Bazza the black Labrador. Bazza has his own video vlog on YouTube called ‘Books and Blocks’.

Catering to every child, any challenge, services are available to all families including those with and without disability.

To find out more about Kites visit www.kitestherapy.org.au

Caption: Shirley McInnes and Sue Glasson