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Patent-pending learning tool helps kids get a firmer grip on life

What do you get when an occupational therapist brainstorms with a nuclear engineer?

If you're a child with a disability, you get a chance at a better future.

Elisabeth Wharton, an occupational therapist for the Toledo Public Schools, wanted to help her pupils develop very basic skills. She asked husband Randy trained to study and solve problems for some ideas.

"Some of her kids had problems with gross motor skills, they couldn't do things like other kids because their hands got in the way," Randy says.

The solution: "Cuttables" and "Traceables," patent-pending round and square shapes with special handles that a child can more easily grip. Magnets enable the shapes to be changed and repositioned as needed. A square can become a house! A circle can be a face! Even a vision-impaired child has been able to create pictures with the shapes, which are "in pretty colors and fun to use," Wharton says. "They look cool and like neat toys."

The Whartons maintain their day jobs while running Createable Learning Concepts. TheToledo Chamber of Commerce has provided assistance and the Regional Growth Partnership granted Createable Learning $10,265 while providing coaching and counseling to help the start-up get off the ground. Wharton says although the Chamber and RGP usually back tech ventures, they advanced this one because its products (manufactured at Plastic Technologies Inc. in Holland, Ohio) help children develop higher levels of independence and achievement, which will make them better students and thus, better adults.

Next up for the Whartons: Web site upgrades and partnering with major distributors. Once Cuttables and Traceables are in stores and sales volume picks up, the Whartons will delegate some tasks and begin hiring.

Source: Randy Wharton, Createable Learning Concepts
Writer: Gabriella Jacobs

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