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Mobility Program Provides Rewarding Experience for Students at CREC Academy of Science and Innovation, Central Connecticut State University
(New Britain, CT) One of the best experiences that Lorette Feivelson had during her time at CREC Academy of Science and Innovation was helping to modify an electric toy car for an 18-month old girl with limited mobility. The girl, Parker, was very hesitant getting into the car, but that soon changed.
“You should have seen the look on this girl’s face. She had the biggest smile. Once she figured it out she did not want to get out of the car,” said Feivelson, who graduated from CREC ASI this week. “This was one of the best experiences of my high school career. It was fun and empowering for me, but also rewarding and a chance to give back.”
For the second year in a row, students from CREC ASI and Central Connecticut State University teamed up for the Go Baby Go! program. In April, they adapted six motorized toy cars to fit the needs of kids with disabilities. The cars were donated to children who were identified by physical and occupational therapists.
Go Baby Go! is designed to give children with limited mobility the ability to move around independently. Founded by the University of Delaware, the program was brought to CCSU approximately three years ago by Michele Dischino, associate professor of technology and engineering education at CCSU.
CREC ASI hosted Go Baby Go! for the first time last year, said Gina Gadue, theme coach and instructional specialist at the magnet high school. CREC ASI students, with guidance and instruction from CCSU students, helped build eight cars. The program great that the school wanted to host again this year.
“The kids love participating in this event. It is so rewarding for them to work on a car for a child that they then get to meet. They are able to see firsthand the child's limitations and know that because they were able to work with others to adapt the car the child gets to enjoy it safely. The best part is to see the smile on the children’s and the parents’ faces,” said Gadue.
“The relationship has been so beneficial all around,” said Dischino. “It’s a great opportunity to work with students, especially in doing something that is benefitting another human being.”
The cars are modified depending on the child’s needs. Extra supports and padding may be added, safety harnesses are installed and the framework is sometimes adapted. The most common change is to the accelerator.
“Normally, you operate the car by pressing the accelerator with your foot, but most children can’t use their feet or have limited mobility,” said Dischino. “We rewire the accelerator function so all the child needs to do is press a big button.”
If someone asked Feivelson, who became involved in the program through Ms. Gadue, to participate in Go Baby Go! again, “I would say yes in a heartbeat!”
For more information about Go Baby Go!, visit http://www.udel.edu/gobabygo/ or contact Michele Dischino at email@example.com.