On Saturday, April 16, CMU students and faculty from several areas including SWE (Society of Women Engineers), the department of kinesiology, and the Council of Exceptional Children Club will team up with the Family Health West pediatric therapists to change the lives of some local children at an event called “Go Baby Go.” “Go Baby Go” is a program that provides modified, ride-on electric cars to young children with disabilities so that they can move independently.
Founded at the University of Delaware by Professor Cole Galloway as part of a research project, “Go Baby Go” has been wildly successful and volunteers have been trained in more than 40 communities nationwide to modify the toy cars so that more children can have access to them.
“Colorado Canyons Pediatric Rehabilitation team and Colorado Mesa University are joining together to launch the program for the first time on the Western Slope,” said Family Health West Foundation Director, Stacey Mascarenas. “Four to five children will receive personally modified cars that they will be able to use independently; something that would not be possible without the help of the student engineers from CMU and the pediatric therapists.”
The event is scheduled to run from 9:00 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. and will be held at the Archuleta Engineering Center on the Western Colorado Community College campus. During those hours the students and therapists must modify the cars onsite to match the specific needs of each child. Some cars will need to have a large push button mounted and wired to replace the foot pedal. Some will need PVC piping to help act as supports for the children, while some cars may require more extensive modifications. Each child will have a preassigned team of student engineers and a therapist to make sure that all of the mobility needs are addressed. “The goal at the end of the day will be for all of the children to be zooming around independently in their own motorized cars for the first time in their lives,” added Stacey.
“Kids with physical disabilities are often left behind by their friends since they do not have the ability to move by themselves,” says Michelle Raymond, a speech language pathologist who works with the pediatric patients at Family Health West. “We’re excited to bridge the gap between them and their friends by giving them a fun way to be mobile. We’re hoping that when other kids look at these kids that they
won’t see a kid with a disability, but a kid with a really cool car!”
Support from the local community for the project has been coming in through monetary donations to a GoFundMe account and at the Family Health West Foundation office. Grand Junction Chrysler and Western Slope Auto also generously donated funds to help purchase cars for the children.
Sarah Lanci, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at CMU, is looking forward to the event and what her team of students can accomplish with the therapists.
“Even though the opportunity to participate in this project sort of fell into my lap, I was so excited to present it to the new CMU Society of Women Engineers student group as a possible first official club event,” she says. “I felt it would give my students a chance to apply some of their coursework knowledge to a real-life issue while working with other students and professionals across multiple disciplines. While it will be fun to watch the progress throughout the day, I’m most looking forward to seeing my students’ reactions when the kids get to drive their cars for the first time.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Stacey Mascarenas, Family Health West Foundation Director: 970-250-7525 email@example.com
Sarah Lanci, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, CMU:firstname.lastname@example.org