The first time Dr. Skye Donovan saw a Go Baby Go! car in action she was moved to tears.
Donovan, an associate professor of physical therapy, and student Cassidie Watson had modified the ride-on toy car for a four year old with a rare genetic disorder that severely limited her mobility. They put the little girl in the battery-operated car now equipped with an easy-to-push giant red power button and she was off, zooming around, laughing and squealing with delight. Soon a favorite game became chasing her older brother around the driveway, something that once seemed impossible.
The total cost of the off-the-shelf car with modifications was $120.
Since then Marymounts Department of Physical Therapy has provided Go Baby Go! cars to more than 50 children, giving them freedom of movement for the first time in their lives. For every child, every car has to be different to meet their needs, Donovan said. Some children might need the big red go button to be placed behind their heads instead of on the steering wheel, for example, while for others the car seat is enhanced with greater lateral support.
In 2016, Marymount opened a Go Baby Go! garage with an event attended by a capacity crowd of students, faculty and community members. A dozen families left that afternoon with cars that their children were independently driving. Donovans colleague, Dr. Jason Craig, has even taken cars to Costa Rica as part of an annual service trip to that Central American country.
Thanks to Donovans efforts, her department has partnerships to build cars with two schools, Sidwell Friends Middle School in Washington, D.C. and Arlington Tech, an engineering and STEM-focused high school program. Its also working with Good Beginnings, a local private practice that provides child- and family-friendly physical and occupational therapy services, to spur even more community involvement with Go Baby Go!
Our goal is to teach others how to do this, Donovan said. That way many more children can be served.
For more information, go to marymount.edu/gobabygo.