Health Headlines: Program offering toy cars for children with mobility issues

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 6:14 AM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Limited mobility can create barriers for children with conditions like cerebral palsy, down syndrome, or other birth defects. While it can isolate them from activities that other kids their age can take part in, a new nationwide program is hoping to get these kids moving once again.

Suzanne Sherrill is the mother of two-year-old Theodore and says he’s all about his playtime.

“He loves to play. He loves to do just what everybody else his age loves to do.”

Which is not always easy since Theodore has down syndrome.

Dr. Amber Yampolsky is a physical therapist for Nemours Children’s Hospital and explains, “The kids with special needs are usually delayed in how they can move. We want to try to give them the ability to move either on time or at least earlier than they would if we kind of waited for their development to progress.”

And that’s the mission of “Go Baby Go,” a program designed to build adaptive toy cars to get kids with mobility impairments moving.

Dr. Jennifer Tucker is a clinical associate professor with the University of Central Florida who says she’s passionate about this program, “We believe that mobility is a human right.”

“A lot of kids with special needs don’t have the ability to do the foot pedals or to do the steering, so we’re able to adapt the cars so that they just have a button on them,” says Dr. Yampolsky. “And the kids, even with a very limited amount of mobility, are able to push that button and make the car go.”

With the help of the program, its the first time three-year-old Haddie Ortiz, who has mild cerebral palsy, will get to ride in her car.

Haddie’s mom, Rachel, says her daughter loves it, “She’s excited. I think it’s one of those things she is going to have control over something that is usually hard for her.”

Suzanne says the same is true for Theodore, who isn’t letting anything put the brakes on his fun, “He doesn’t want to be left out just because he is rocking an extra chromosome.”

“Go Baby Go,” was founded at the University of Delaware, but there are several chapters around the country. Typically when a child outgrows their car, they can bring it back so it can get a tune-up before being given to another child in need.

Dr. Tucker says the program helps make sure every kid gets a pass to the fast lane and that the day a child received one of the cars special for their parents too, “That day isn’t about anything that their child cannot do, it’s about everything their child can do.”