Answers In Motion, LLC is a company dedicated to designing innovative products that provide answers. Their flagship product Thumball™, inspires equal opportunity conversations among people of every age, race, sex, heritage or creed. The mission is to enhance interpersonal communication skills through toys, games and teaching techniques that educate, entertain and help people to better understand each other.
Mary Miller Pembleton a speech pathologist was working with a challenging class of students having a variety of learning challenges. She created ways to effectively combine speech and language activities with games to improve motivation and progress. Mary noticed however, that when it was not their own turn the students did not pay attention to the activity and did not receive the benefit of learning from each other. Writing vocabulary words on a small stuffed ball and allowing the students to play ball in class got their undivided attention! Passing, rolling and gently tossing the ball to each other was both fun and motivating. Finally a student asked “Why are there words all over the ball?”. The concept was explained that when the leader says “STOP” the person holding the ball must talk about the word found on the ball under their thumb. The students then began learning more from each other because they never took their eye off the ball!
After months of making her own designs and using them effectively Mary had a dream, a literal dream instructing her to, “Make this product and market it because no one has time to make their own games anymore!” The dream occurred on her deceased father’s birthday and felt like “he was communicating this idea to me almost like a gift.” When Mary shared the dream with her partner and now husband Gregg and he immediately understood the limitless potential of combining ball play with learning and Thumball™ was born.Similar ideas have been used with beach balls but it always had inherent flaws. It was important that the ball be sanitary, safe, easy to control and provide pleasing sensory input. Thumball™ is now improving communication and social skills in the classroom, at home and in the workplace as an ice breaker. Mary and Gregg’s decision to go forth and find ways to get Thumball™ patented, manufactured and marketed was a courageous choice and there is no looking back. Mary stated, “My husband’s optimism, life experience and tenacity made my dream into a reality.”
Hearing from satisfied trainers, therapists, teachers, parents and children motivates the couple. Thumball™ designs are now in stores, catalogs, online shops and overseas. Their business, Answers In Motion also creates custom Thumballs for companies that want a special way to market their products, train employees in essential information and effectively convey the core values of their business. Recent publicity and celebrity exposure have increased sales and taken Thumball™ to the next level of brand recognition. Mary & Gregg Pembleton believed from the start that Thumball™ would become a household word and their enthusiasm has never waned. It began with a dream in the dark and now the future for Thumball™ is bright with possibilities.