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Q&A with Teresa Garate, president & CEO of the Anixter Center
TUE, 12/20/2016 - 3:40PM 
By: Daily Whale Staff

06.23.15 AnixterCEO 7554 Edit 2 0Teresa Garate considers herself a “fixer” when it comes to her professional career. She has worked to implement organizational reforms while working at Chicago Public Schools’ Office of Specialized Services, the Illinois Department of Public Health and in her current role as the president & CEO of Anixter Center.

Garate stepped into her current role at the Anixter Center in June 2015. The center is one of Chicago’s largest nonprofit organizations, serving nearly 8,000 children, teens and adults with disabilities. With a broad background in education, disability, and social services, Garate joined the organization ready to implement change.

“I think my skillset is that I’ve learned how to use data to inform change and come up with best practices,” Garate told the Daily Whale in a recent interview.

Read Full Article at Daily Whale

Lekotek Releases Its First 
AblePlay™ Toy Guide for Children of All Abilities   
Chicago, Ill. (Dec. 8, 2016) — Experts in helping children with disabilities learn key life skills through therapeutic play, Lekotek has just released its first AblePlay™ Toy Guide. The guide is a unique resource that evaluates a variety of toys and explains how each can help develop important skills that all children—but particularly those with disabilities—need in order to grow and learn. 
Just in time for holiday shopping, the guide, which includes information on more than 50 toys, is free and currently available online at Lekotek.org. Every toy in the guide is accessible and appropriate for all children. While the guide is being launched during the holiday season, it is designed as a reference that can be used throughout the year.
“This is the definitive guide for parents, grandparents, professionals, or anyone seeking to purchase toys for children of all abilities,” said Kathy Lavin, Executive Director, Lekotek. “The guide features AblePlay™ approved products as well as AblePlay™ Play Ideas so that the benefits of play are maximized. As a parent of a child with special needs, I believe that this guide supports any family’s desire to play together with much joy and laughter.”
A key to Lekotek’s success is its emphasis on bringing the whole family together to enjoy the many benefits of play. This new guide will help make that all-important family time even more fun by showcasing toys that will appeal to all ages and all abilities.
Lekotek is a division of Anixter Center. For more information about Lekotek or to access the AblePlay™ Toy Guide, go to Lekotek.org
About Anixter Center
Anixter Center is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in Chicago serving children, teens and adults with disabilities. Through more than 30 programs at dozens of locations across the greater Chicago area and the country, Anixter Center touches the lives of more than 8,000 individuals annually through residential, employment, therapy, educational and community support services. To learn more, please visit www.Anixter.org.

By RYAN ORI | Crain's Chicago Business


After pulling the plug on a deal to sell one of its two Clybourn Corridor buildings to a real estate developer, the nonprofit Anixter Center is now considering selling both of them and moving to new locations.

Anixter has hired Jones Lang LaSalle to find a buyer for its four-story, 27,000-square-foot building at 2001 N. Clybourn Ave., said Teresa Garate, president and CEO of the organization that provides services to people with disabilities.

Meanwhile, JLL is advising Anixter on its options for a larger building it owns across the street at 2032 N. Clybourn, including a potential sale, Garate said.

Please join us for a night of pure fun, and while you play, you’ll be helping children with disabilities play too.


Light Up the Night with Lekotek

Friday, Nov. 4, 2016
7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
6:00 p.m. Special VIP Cocktails

Chicago Cultural Center
Yates Gallery
78 E. Washington St.
Chicago, IL 60602

learn more

Gift Ideas for Children, Adults with Disabilities

As we head into the busy shopping season, be sure to remember your loved ones who live with a disability.

Sunday, November 29, 2015 08:37AM
As we head into the busy shopping season, be sure to remember your loved ones who live with a disability.

To make your gift-giving easier, some local organizations are making recommendations that are sure to be a hit.

It might seem challenging to pick the perfect toy for a child with a disability or to select a gift for an aging relative that will be enjoyable - and beneficial. But with a few gift guidelines, that could all change.

Camilla Deleon has a rare syndrome that causes delayed growth and development among other issues.

"Camilla, she wouldn't move at all. And now she moves all over the place. So it's nice to see those progresses," said Sandra Tobar.

The 2-year-old lights up as much as this robot when she sees him put on his show. That's one of the reasons the Fisher Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo made it on the National Lekotek Center's recommended toy list this year.

"The National Lekotek Center works with families who have children with disabilities or special needs and what we do is we use play and toys to help a child reach their developmental milestones," said Jean Bailey, director, National Lekotek Center.

For the past 19 years, the non-profit has worked with Toys "R" Us to recommend toys that are inclusive for children with disabilities. They are always on the lookout for toys that will advance a child's development.

"The thing that stands out for us with this toy is that there are different ways to move his trunk that allows the balls to stay in place or to fly all over the place," said Ahren Hoffman, National Lekotek Center. "So that's really helpful for kids that need different types of accessibility in how far away that ball is going for them to be able to reach it."

At the Chicago Lighthouse, experts say there are new innovations in every price range that can make life easier for people who have low vision or are legally blind. Their store boasts some 900 items for use in every room of the house.

Some of the most in-demand items include talking clocks and watches as well as tablets and computers with high-tech video magnifiers.

"These things are fairly new to many people so they don't know they are out there, but there's a solution for everybody," said Tom Perski, Chicago Lighthouse.

The complete "Toys 'R' Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids": http://www.toysrus.com/shop/index.jsp?categoryId=3261680.
The National Lekotek Center: lekotek.org, toy rating system: www.ableplay.org.
Chicago Lighthouse: http://chicagolighthouse.org/.

• Facilitating Play for Children with and without Special Needs

This is an introductory course geared towards parents, caregivers and professionals on strategies and tactics to facilitate play with children. Class includes handouts, video observations, lecture and hands on activities.

• Making Play Accessible

What is it? Through play, children develop in many areas—physical, social/emotional, cognitive, communicative, and sensory. Children with disabilities also reach milestones through play, but their development may occur at different ages and stages. This workshop will explore the principles of toy and play adaptations. Participants will have the hands-on opportunity to adapt activities and games based on the needs of children with varying abilities. This training helps to explore the creative uses of toys and play. 

For registration links and payment information for these trainings please go to our store: 


The World’s Greatest Toy Store™ Honors Its Longstanding Commitment to the Special Needs Community by Providing #ToysForAll

Toys“R”Us® today announced the release of the 2015 Toys“R”Us Toy Guide for Differently-Abled Kids®, an easy-to-use toy selection resource for those who know, love and shop for children with special needs. This annual, complimentary publication is available now in Toys“R”Us and Babies“R”Us® stores nationwide and online, in both English and Spanish, at Toysrus.com/DifferentlyAbled. For more than 20 years, this beloved catalog has been a go-to shopping guide for families in the special needs community, showcasing specially selected toys that aid in the skill development of children who have physical, cognitive or developmental disabilities. This year, Toys“R”Us is partnering with Nick Lachey, father, philanthropist, multi-platinum recording artist and television personality, who appears on the cover of the Guide alongside 5-year old Josephine Gonzalez from New Jersey.