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What’s in the box? Kites unpacks toys, dogs and more

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Kites Children’s Therapy is set to hit the Perth therapy space next week, with toys, bikes and therapy dogs riding on its kite-tails.

Kites is a brand-new service specialising in early childhood intervention for children aged zero to six.

It will be led by its flagship programs: Kites Toybox toy library – encompassing the largest collection of adapted toys in the Southern Hemisphere – and a ground breaking dog-assisted therapy program.

One youngster who is especially excited about the launch is Tahnee Neesham, who has been a recipient of dog-assisted therapy in the program’s early stages.

Tahnee is on the Autism spectrum (link opens in new window) and completed a six-week program with therapy dog Bazza in 2019.

“Tahnee really enjoys the games she can play with Bazza. This might be selecting cards to express her own feelings. She encourages the dog to place his paw on the card she chooses,” says Tahnee’s Mum, Jo.

“By encouraging Tahnee to do tasks with Bazza, she’s becoming more assertive, finding her voice and improving eye contact and self-control,” she explains.

The Kites dog-assisted therapy program is the first of its kind in Western Australia. Led by occupational therapists, it uses highly trained Labradors to deliver creative ways for children to achieve their therapy goals.

Dog-assisted therapy is just one of the Kites offerings, which also include an adapted toy library, dietetics, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, social work and speech pathology.

“Kites brings together therapists and experts from across the disability and early childhood sectors,” says Elizabeth Barnes, CEO of Kites Children’s Therapy.

“It provides personalised early intervention support that can transform the lives of kids living with disability or developmental challenges,” Elizabeth says.

The Honorable Stephen Dawson MLC, Minister for Disability Services, will officially launch Kites Children’s Therapy at all-ages family event in Victoria Park on Wednesday 4 March.

“Early intervention is vital for children with disability or developmental delay. We know that access to early intervention therapies from a young age has a dramatic impact on a child’s development, learning and outcomes,” said the Hon Minister Dawson MLC.

“It’s fantastic to see the emergence of a new service provider in this space, and in particular the continuation of the toy library service, which has a long history in WA and has touched the lives of thousands of families over its 44 year history,” said Minster Dawson.

Kites Toybox was formerly Noah’s Ark Toy Library, which was founded in 1976 before merging with the Independent Living Centre in 2013, and transferring to Activ in 2019.

The library reopens after a marathon toy relocation mission, which saw more than 4,500 toys including ride-on cars, switches and switch-accessible toys, construction vehicles, story bags, puzzles and sensory activities relocated from their former home at Activ to their new home at Kites.

Kites Toybox is a toy library with a difference, unpacking the traditional toy library model to provide toys and resources alongside individual parent coaching sessions and inclusive playgroups across the metro area.

Kites Children’s Therapy is part of the VisAbility (link opens in new window) family of brands, which also includes Guide Dogs WA (link opens in new window). VisAbility has more than 100 years of history in Western Australia and has been a leader early childhood intervention services for over 30 years.

The Kites Children’s Therapy launch event was held on Wednesday 4 March and included free ice cream, coffee van, bouncy castle, ride-on race track and a special ‘string of kites’ ribbon cutting ceremony.