Joco 913

Beeping eggs give children plenty of reason to smile

The Kansas City Star

The sun was shining, the grass was green and the kids were excited for an Easter egg hunt last Wednesday morning at Loose Park.

Over the sounds of children’s giggles and birds chirping, there was a constant pulsing sound, almost like crickets or cicadas. This was a different kind of Easter egg hunt.

The Children’s Center for the Visually Impaired’s annual egg hunt featured about 300 plastic eggs filled with electronic beepers to make it possible for kids with serious vision problems to find them nestled in the grass.

“Even children with sight problems can still have a great Easter egg hunt,” said Carol Coyle, volunteer coordinator of the hunt. “Their ears are wonderful. They home in on these (eggs).”

For Coyle, watching the kids makes all the effort worth it.

“I think it’s the look on the children’s faces, picking up eggs. … They’re so happy and excited,” she said.

Approximately 80 preschool-age children from the center took part in the morning egg hunt.

Russell Roberts of Overland Park was there with his 2-year-old daughter, Charlotte. Charlotte has trouble with light sensitivity and seeing contrast, so outdoor activities can often be difficult for her.

“It’s nice to have something that caters more toward her specific needs with the audio,” Roberts said.

Ryan Davies of Kansas City also was grateful for the accommodations this egg hunt made for his 3-year-old daughter, Makenzie.

“In any other Easter egg hunt, the event may be (over) too quick. This gives her a chance to find the eggs with her limited vision,” Davies said. “She can take it all in at her own pace.”

For Melody Frank’s 3-year-old son Owen, the egg hunt made the whole day special.

“He’s so excited. He’s been dancing all morning,” said Frank, who lives in Liberty.

When the start command came, the kids streamed down the grassy hill, many feeling their way with canes. Teachers and parents walked with them as they uncovered the beeping pink and blue eggs.

The eggs come from a group of retired men from Western Electric, an AT&T supplier. The AT&T Pioneers volunteer group organized the egg hunt, hiding the eggs and getting the prizes together.

After each child collected three eggs, he or she could bring those eggs back to the starting area and trade them for candy before going back out to gather more. On the third or fourth trip, the children got to select a handmade stuffed bunny.

To make these bunnies multiply enough for every child to have one, Marvie Shoemake of Merriam, and a few fellow volunteers got out their scissors, paint and sewing machines.

“We’ve got two gals that cut (the patterns) out,” Shoemake said. “I paint the faces.”

The smiling bunnies came in all different colors of fleece — blue, purple, yellow, green and pink. Shoemake estimated her group made 125 of them — and they’re already started on next year’s batch.

She’s been part of the egg hunt for at least 20 years. In the early years, they used to make the eggs out of old L’eggs pantyhose containers. Since then, they have found sturdier shells for the beepers.

“It’s a fun and rewarding project,” Shoemake said. “It’s something that makes them feel part of the everyday things kids do.”