Every kid wants a Power Wheels.
Being able to cruise around the driveway just like mom and dad do on the road must be just the coolest thing when you’re little. So much so, we want one as adults.
But unfortunately for children with mobility issues, the ones you can buy in the store don’t always match what a child needs in terms of safety and functionality. That’s where GoBabyGo comes in.
The program started at the University of Delaware and is where Tobi Sheiker was first introduced to it. Sheiker, owner of Balance Chiropractic in Concord, has a 3-year-old son named Berkley, who has cerebal palsy. Berkley isn’t mobile yet, and until recently didn’t have a wheelchair. So when she was visiting family over the holidays last year, she caught up with program organizers and came home with a new Power Wheels that fit Berkley’s needs.
“We didn’t have a way for him to get from A to B,” Sheiker said. “And they put in whatever the child needs. It’s completely customized.”
She saw what it could mean for Berkley and started thinking about how there’s no program like it around here. So Sheiker founded GoBabyGo New Hampshire. In May, they held a workshop at NHTI, where over 100 volunteers outfitted BMWs and Jeeps for eight children. And recently, students in the Advanced Studies Program at St. Paul’s School got involved.
Almost 40 students in the engineering program helped outfit six cars for children on the GoBabyGo wait list. They spent a few hours one day changing around the electrical components to make operating the gas and break pedal, and the steering wheel, a little bit easier. With the help of local physical and occupational therapists, the students used pvc pipes, pool noodles and harnesses to add extra support in the back, neck and head areas.
“It mimicked what really takes place in an engineering design process,” said Will Renauld, a teacher in the Advanced Studies Program who also volunteered at the initial workshop. “They were all a little different.”
And all these children got either a sweet new BMW or Jeep for free.
“Literally, as soon as they get in, these kids are on the go,” Sheiker said.
The battery powered ride on toys typically go for $200 to $300, but with all the changes they could cost double that. Luckily at the workshop a few months ago, Sheiker and her army of volunteers were able to raise $10,000 and another $5,000 for the one with the students.
“It’s probably one of the most touching experiences I’ve had,” Renauld said. “We’d love to do it every year.”
That’s a good thing because there are still some children on the wait list and Sheiker believes that will keep growing. A third workshop is planned for this fall.
To learn more about GoBabyGo New Hampshire, visit gobabygonh.com.