Photo by Briana Contreras

The GoBabyGo hub is used for rehabilitation and the Children's Museum of Cleveland's "Sensory Family Time."



October 13, 2016

GoBabyGo workshop helps disabled children

Cleveland State University welcomed back its fourth annual GoBabyGo workshop to help promote mobility in young children using high-impact technologies with low or no cost to families in need.

The Washkewicz College of Engineering and College of Health Sciences faculty, alumni and students got together with Replay for Kids on Sept. 29 to modify and demonstrate toy cars they brought in to help children who have mobility impairments.

GoBabyGo is a project that began in Delaware by researcher Cole Galloway about eight years ago. He wanted to help children with disabilities get moving and remediate some of the effects of those disabilities, explained Cleveland State Assistant Clinical Professor and Doctor of Physical Therapy Program Madalynn Wendland.    

To help families find a tool that can help their children, Galloway and his lab assistants bought a toy car at Toys “R” Us and altered it so that it could be affordable and an easy access, Wendland added.

Thus, GoBabyGo was born.

To keep children moving, the project made its way as a workshop at Cleveland State in 2014 as well as other campuses. The new Center for Innovations in Medical Professions (CIMP) building features a GoBabyGo lab.

“With the collaboration of other researchers, myself and The Children’s Museum of Cleveland we brought GoBabyGo to CSU to order to do research and create community engagement,” Wendland said. “We do these workshops where we’re trying to get the technology out there to make a difference. Our results [from the workshops] have shown that we are making a difference so we want to make this impact on children’s lives right now.”

Organizations such as Replay for Kids have also been working with GoBabyGo and CSU for two years assisting volunteers and supplying them with the right tools and technical support, according to assistant director Natalie Wordega.

Replay for Kids was created in 1999 by biomedical engineer and president of the organization Bill Memberg after seeing an ad in the paper about toys that needed repairing. Since then, he created the organization to fix all toys for kids with disabilities, Wordega added.

Students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program at CSU helped modify the cars they bought themselves from using 10 percent of their money raised by the students in their class, according to Wendland’s graduate assistant Bill Nixon.

“After buying our car for the workshop and with the help of Dr. Wendland, we were able to find a family who wants a car. Now we are modifying it exactly for their child’s needs,” Nixon said. “The cars are all modified a certain way based off of the child’s disability and with the way it is designed, these children will be motivated to make the car move as well as develop their fine motor skills.”

Alongside the health science students, college of engineering students joined GoBabyGo, helping create a car fit for a child.

“Engineering students have been doing toy modification workshops with Replay for Kids for years now, but this is their first year joining forces with the health science students and doing research for them as well,” said Paul M Pawlaczy, manager of External Affairs and Communication at the College of Engineering. “We have given seniors in engineering final research projects based off creating tools that can help with the GoBabyGo workshops.”

Children and their families can come in and have free ‘Sensory Friendly Time’ in the GoBabyGo lab, which allows them to play with toys, enjoy activities with other children and use the cars created in the workshops, Wendland said.

‘Sensory Friendly Time’ is held at the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, but while the building is being renovated, all meetings are held at CIMP.

‘Sensory Friendly Time’ meetings will be held in the GoBabyGo lab on Nov. 12 and Dec. 10 this year from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.


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