PLAINVILLE – The halls of Plainville High School turned into a driving course recently as local children tested out new motorized toy cars modified for them by students.
“It’s just so heartwarming to see youngsters with limited mobility able to drive these cars,” said Mark Chase, STEM, technology and engineering teacher at Plainville High School. “It gives them independence.”
High school and middle school students worked with technology students from Central Connecticut State University to redesign ride-on toy cars for nine children with physical challenges as part of “Go Baby Go.”
The national program helps young children obtain modified cars built at school and university workshops.
The children are chosen based on their needs in collaboration with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
“For the parents, a lot of times they’re seeing their child move for the first time on their own,” said Rosie Flammang, a physical therapist who works with the Go Baby Go program around the state.
She said while the cars give children with limited mobility an opportunity to play, the modified cars also have positive impacts moving forward.
“Exploration is important,” she said.
When the children “test drive” the cars at the high school they are able to explore how the cars work.
In many cases the “gas pedal” to operate the toy car is moved to the steering wheel for better access and pvc pipes and foam noodles are added for extra support. Safety stops and other features are created for further control.
Students use skills they learned in technology classes since the beginning of the school year to re-wire and rebuild the cars to meet each individual child’s needs.
The cars are purchased at a toy store using fundraising money.
Chase said Plainville has been fundraising to participate in the program for the third year since last year. Each car cost approximately $250 to buy and modify.
“It’s a great feeling,” he said. “It’s been another successful year.”
The high school plans to participate in the program again next year.