By Cindy Huston, Technology and Resource Center Director
On a sunny July afternoon at Wendell Foster, five little super heroes cruised around the Sensory Park in customized ride-on cars. They were claiming their super power by transforming into “incredible” drivers. Smiles were plentiful…from the children, to their families, and the teams who built the cars.
“Go Hannah Go!” yelled her mom Christella Hudson, as she circled the Sensory Park. Hannah has Cerebral Palsy and is unable to walk, but nothing slowed her down on this day!
Hannah was one of five local children nominated to receive an adapted ride-on car from Owensboro’s first GoBabyGo! build. GoBabyGo! is a national outreach program that allows infants and toddlers with limited mobility a way to explore their environment independently. Their belief is simple: mobility is a human right.
Wendell Foster received funding from the Kentucky Assistive Technology Services Network to host a GoBabyGo! professional training and build. “We were fortunate to have the founder of GoBabyGo!, Dr. James ‘Cole’ Galloway, PhD, FAPTA, Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware, give a presentation on pediatric mobility. He was very impressed with our Sensory Park,” said Cindy Huston, Director of Technology and Resource Center.
Dr. Galloway is well known in his field but for many of those in attendance, it was their first time hearing him speak. “I love Dr. Galloway’s non-scientific, pragmatic, outside of the boxthinking. I love how he was humorous and engaging but also very enlightening,” said Nicole Robbins, Physical Therapist.
After attending a morning lecture, 18 physical and occupational therapists descended upon the Young Meeting House in preparation for their first build. Three pink jeeps, one red jeep, and a pink corvette were ready to be assembled. The first order of business was to review the driver profile created by the parents, which enabled the team to learn about the child who would be receiving the car.
With visions of tiny super heroes in their head, the teams quickly went to work re-wiring the electrical box and placing a large switch on the steering wheel. This allows the child to access the car using the switch instead of a pedal on the floor. Next came the tires and axle. “It felt like we were putting together a car on Christmas Eve,” said Jana Billingsley, Assistive Technology Professional.
Families began to arrive and excitement was building among everyone involved. Decorating began and one-by-one, the cars were completed and drivers were ready to be fitted. The teams were on hand to provide any necessary seating supports using everyday items such as pool noodles, kickboards, and PVC pipe.
Levi Boone was the first to try out his jeep. It didn’t take long before he was making laps around the park. It was hard to tell who was having more fun – him or his dad, who was in charge of the remote control until Levi is able to steer independently.
Despite physical challenges, Sincere “Sinny” Smith-Rouse doesn’t let anything get in her way. Her “can do” attitude is evident the moment you meet her. She climbed into her pink corvette, with Beyonce streaming, and started cruising. This spunky girl was born to drive!
“I’m supposed to push this to make it go,” said Ava Austin. Her mom, Jessica, was thrilled to see her behind the wheel for the first time.
All of the families were appreciative of the opportunity to receive an adapted ride-on car. Edie Lindsey’s mother, Tonya, summed it up with this message: Wendell Foster did it again! They went and built Edie a personalized car. They spent all day working on a Saturday just to make this happen. These people go above and beyond for their kids. I am so grateful that God put us in a place where we are treated like family, treated like we are no different than anyone else, treated like the people who work with us do it because they love us not because it’s their job. Thank you to everyone who worked to make Edie able to run her brothers down, like a little sister should. Your kindness and love is greatly appreciated! God bless!
Wendell Foster has joined the growing number of GoBabyGo! Chapters across the country. While anyone can volunteer at a build, typically electricians are in charge of the wiring and therapists ensure appropriate seating supports are installed.
We are currently seeking sponsors in order to continue building adapted cars. To make a donation to the new GoBabyGo! Program, download this GoBabyGo! Donation Form.
For information about sponsorship, volunteer opportunities, and rider nominations, please contact:
Director, Technology and Resource Center