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Cool Program Gives Disabled Toddlers a Normal Childhood Experience

Photograph by Twenty20

Toddlers with disabilities will now be able to enjoy finally be able to enjoy toy cars, thanks to a new program.

The program—aptly called "Go Baby Go"—was created by the Utah Center for Assistive Technology to retrofit the popular battery-operated toy cars to make them user-friendly for disabled toddlers. They make modifications to the seats and by making them more comfortable, reports the Salt Lake City Fox News affiliate.

Go Baby Go is modeled after a program developed at the University of Delaware, which helps kids as young as 6 months old with special mobility needs.

Lauren Ayala, a physical therapist with the University of Utah's Developmental Assessment Clinic, says the technology is also seen as a way to help disabled kids develop motor skills, which will help with future cognitive development.

“These are off the rack cars from Toys R Us or Wal-Mart, and we do a basic $50 switch adaptation to it, and it's much more fun for the kid, and it's much more cost-efficient for a parent in terms of their first mobility device,” said Mike Wollenzien, director for the Utah Center for Assistive Technology. Pediatric mobility devices can cost thousands—even for devices such as pediatric push chairs (basically a specialized stroller) which are not motorized.

Here’s how it works: Parents bring the toy cars into the center and can buy an inexpensive customized switch. Or, they can purchase the cars through the program. For low-income children, the switches and toys are donated.

The program has adapted 65 cars in the past four years. Some of the cars are guided by a tap of the foot, while others might have a switch attached to a helmet. Depending on demand, the program will retrofit about 17 cars this year, said Wollenzien. He said he’d like to help more disabled children learn how to live independently in the future.

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