Michael Dicpinigaitis founded Big Red Adaptive Play and Design Initiative in September 2021. Today the student organization has more than 100 members who work to rewire battery-operated toys, devices and other technologies to make them accessible for people with physical disabilities. These assistive technologies are then lent out at no cost on a monthly basis to special needs communities, through the Ithaca City School District, TST BOCES, Racker and other schools and organizations.
Dicpinigaitis has received direct feedback from these partners saying that — with the adapted toys — children are more engaged, and that they are motivated to play, participate and learn in the classrooms. He will use the Robinson-Appel funding to sustain the operations of the organization, invest in new rewiring equipment and bring on new community partners to expand the impact of the program.