How a system of ropes and pulleys may change the lives of babies with Down syndrome.
When Grace Morgan smiles, everyone smiles.
How could you not? She's almost 1, and her enthusiasm, curiosity, and zest for life are contagious.
And thanks to an innovative research project, Grace will get to interact with and explore her world like never before.
Grace was born with Down syndrome in April 2015.
Her parents, Liz and Matt Morgan, learned about her diagnosis after she was born. Their initial surprise quickly turned to worry and concerns about Grace's future. Physicians at the Down syndrome clinic at their local children's hospital told the Morgans they could expect Grace to do everything a typical child would, it would just take her twice as long.
But that response didn't fly with the Morgans.
"Why would we just accept the fact that they say 'Everything takes twice as long?'" Liz told Upworthy.
Then the Morgans heard about a research project that could improve Grace's mobility — a huge deal for kids like her.
The man behind the study, Dr. Cole Galloway , is a physical therapy professor at the University of Delaware and founder of GoBabyGo. The program combines engineering, tech, and rehabilitation tools to provide real-world mobility and confidence to kids with disabilities. Galloway was looking for a baby younger than 9 months with Down syndrome and a family with enough time to supervise daily use of an innovative device. The Morgans were selected from a pool of applicants.
Galloway and his team recently set up a mobility harness system in the Morgan's home.
The 10-foot-by-10-foot rig is common in children's hospitals and clinics, but this is one of the first times a system like this is being used in a home environment.
The harness, which is attached to a canopy and pulley system, allows Grace to remain upright, jump, bounce, and interact with her world in a way similar to that of her peers.
Since she's free to roam on the system, she can sway and twirl.
She can play with her parents and big brother.
And even charm the family dog.
For the Morgans and other families, mobility devices like this are life-changing.
The ability to move independently is more than just getting from one place to another. Children learn about their environment and develop cognitively and socially through locomotion. And for older children, the ability to get around and interact with peers is how friendships are formed.
The difference for Grace is "huge," Liz told Upworthy. Without the harness, Grace's world is limited to the toys or people directly in front of her.
But with the device, there's no stopping her.
"What a harness can do is just give a chance for Gracie to never experience anything less than her own independence," Galloway told Upworthy. "Her own self-guided life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Adding, "But it's the pursuit of happiness."
Looks like Grace and her family have plenty to smile about.