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A&M students turn tiny cars into pediatric wheelchairs

Kalin Kerr '24 August 11, 2022 8:46 AM updated: November 4, 2022 10:33 AM

Texas A&M's student chapter of Go Baby Go desires to change the world one child at a time. This student organization takes small electric ride-on cars and turns them into pediatric wheelchairs for children with mobility restrictions.

Opened to the public by University of Delaware professor Cole Galloway, the original founder and physical therapist, the program has chapters across the country. A&M School of Engineering Medicine students Kevin Birdsall '24 and Ramya Varadarajan '24 have taken their personal dreams of leveraging engineering to help people in the medical field and harnessed them into building the local chapter. 

“We kind of brought it up from the ground," Birdsall said. 

Combining pediatric medicine with engineering, these teams serve communities and families around them in the Houston area by building these custom wheelchairs and presenting them free to patients. With only about a year under their belt, this local chapter foresees more growth in years to come.

“It’s honestly been met with such overwhelming positive responses [from the community] so it’s been better than we could’ve ever imagined,” Birdsall said. 

In March, the local chapter held its first “build day.” Teams of engineers and occupational physical therapy students came together to build the pediatric cars, each of which is individually designed for the specific patient’s physical needs. In only a few hours, two cars were finished and students delivered them directly to the patients.

“It’s all about giving back to the community and helping these kids within a matter of hours,” Varadarajan said. 

Because of this program, children with disabilities are gaining independent mobility, which is linked to social, motor and language skills, and allows for more inclusion in their family's routine activities.

“It can improve their cognition, and they learn better if they ambulate on their own as opposed to passive movement,” Birdsall said. “This is such an efficacious means of good. All of it can be seen on the kids' faces. The first time the start button to ‌go, and seeing how quickly their mind adapts to it. The donations are just such a direct way of doing good."

Thanks to The Association’s donation toward Go Baby Go's build day, this local chapter is given the opportunity to succeed. 

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