Put A Brilliant Scientist In A Toy Store, And He'll Start Changing Lives Left And Right

The feeling of being left behind is really discouraging, especially for kids. Dr. James Galloway of the University of Delaware has started a project to ensure children with disabilities that affect their mobility don't have to experience that feeling. Check out some of the awesome success stories below.

If you think these folks are working on some pretty cool projects, share this video with your friends.

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Woman: Xander.

Xander: Here.

Barbara Ley: In the classroom, Xander's got a lot of really good friends. In more open area situations he can get a little left behind.

Cole Galloway: I have lots of kids that aren't invited to birthday parties, ever. Friends are hard to make when you're not mobile.

Barbara: When he's on the bike, he just often just gets this really big, like, happy grin on his face.

Xander: Whoa.

Cole: I want you to feel like you have control over your own happiness and I know, for young children, that's attached to your mobility.

And here we are. We keep a variety of cars so that we can mix and match parts. I'm Cole Galloway, the founder of Go Baby Go, a project to increase exploration in kids with special needs. We take off the shelf, ride-on cars, and we modify them lightly to get them going. The materials of interest are PVC, nuts, and bolts, things you get at your hardware store.

I came to Delaware in 2000 and started a traditional research lab studying how kids learn to move their bodies. There are no commercially available power wheelchairs for children that are under 3. The other frustration for myself and a high school research assistant, a couple of summers back, went to Toys "R" Us. We jacked up all the small cars, took them all off the shelf. The manager comes running, "What are you doing?" And we said, "We're having a lab meeting, of course."

We went and saw that for $100 for a ride-on car and $100 worth of materials from Home Depot, we can get the same kind of mobility. That was too good to be true. Fast forward two or three years and now we're modifying ride-on cars all over the country. We're in front of 20 to 50 families in [Inaudible 00:02:11] workshop teaching them how to modify cars. We provide very basic YouTube videos that parents and clinicians can view. They can build a car off of them. Combine that with the manual that we send out. Have an electrical or mechanical engineer come by and certify it. You're ready to go.

You can see a very typical design platform. I don't know why we felt the need to give it away except I think everybody would do that. There's no reason to hold onto this and fight for a territory when there's literally hundreds of thousands of kids all over the world, today, sitting still. Now, it becomes a chess match of how quickly we can get it out.

We'll bring children in from the community into the Early Learning Center gym. Plop everybody down in a car, invite our toddler and preschool friends to just play, the adults back off, and you get a whirlwind of socialization and mobility. So, Sara doesn't have a reason to keep her head up, but when she drives her ride-on car, she has a reason. That's the accelerators behind her head.

Woman: Sit up tall, with your head. Ready? There you go. Good girl.

Cole: Xander has the big 4 x 4. By making it a simple switch that you can have to stand up to make it go, it requires him to have to get stronger in his legs, stronger bones, and that'll get him ready to throw those crutches away. That's exactly what we're asking. A typically developing kid and a special guide, bonding. That's the big friend, little friend. And Xander even mentioned, like, "Why is he following me around?" It was, like, "Because you're a superhero."

Barbara: When he uses the standup car, not only can he keep up with the friends, but sometimes the friends have to keep up with him, and so it puts him more in a place of being the leader as opposed to just being the follower.

Xander: It's a motorcycle.

Cole: Just the love of chasing after a child, yelling, "You better come back here, right now, young man or you're going to get run over." There are a lot of kids out there that never get told "No," or "Come back here" because they don't have anywhere to go, and once you give them a chance to go, they'll drive to you a little bit, and then, they're going to drive away from you. And so, when Xander runs away from home, then I know we're good.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

The video was made by NationSwell. It highlights research done at University of Delaware's Go Baby Go infant behavior lab. They're on Facebook, too, so Like them if you think they're up to some pretty cool projects!

Mar 20, 2014

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