( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) Illana Schwarcz’s New Invention Keeps Families Connected
ENSPIRE Contributor: Logan Floyd
In a time when families have found themselves beset by many stresses, a new game called the Family Spinner is helping families stay connected. Created by Pittsburgh native Illana Schwarcz, the Family Spinner offers a means for family members to share their thoughts and feelings in a way that is fun and engaging. Created by Schwarcz to aid communication among her own family, the Spinner has quickly gained popularity with families across the region.
The Family Spinner first came about when Schwarcz tried to find a way for her 5-year-old son David to share his thoughts at the dinner table. Taking a piece of cardboard and a spinner borrowed from a board game, Schwarcz wrote out different prompts, such as “angry,” “proud,” “afraid” and “excited.” Using the spinner, Schwarcz created a game where her family would take turns describing a situation where they felt one of these emotions. Her experiment \quickly proved a wild success, with her family beginning to communicate far better than before.
“Once David played with us for a few days,” Schwarcz said. “We started having real conversations at dinner! At first, we had to help him come up with his answers, but after a couple of weeks, he could say them by himself. He knew that if there was something bothering him or something that he was excited about, he had our undivided attention at the dinner table and the game.”
Having experienced the benefits of the Family Spinner firsthand, Schwarcz decided to share her invention with other families. She formed a partnership with the family physician and parenting expert Dr. Debi Gilboa, and together the two women raised funds for a prototype and fleshed out the game a bit more.
“Together, we came up with some rules,” Scharwcz said. “A time limit for answers (ours is a minute), no interrupting, no criticism; follow-up questions are good. At the end, we have free time to talk about anything our child wants.”
The women are currently finalizing a deal to sell the Family Spinner on Amazon Prime, and the Spinner will also soon be available at Eat’n Park locations on Sept. 15. For now, anyone interested in the Family Spinner can order it online at familyspinner.com.
COVID-19 has brought with it new troubles and anxieties for the American family that are often difficult to talk about. The Family Spinner has aided an important trend of families finding new ways to facilitate communication, a necessary development if the well-being of families is to be maintained. Even though the pandemic continues to present challenges, it is reassuring to know that individuals like Schwarcz are coming up with creative solutions to increasingly common problems.