Volunteers help kids at Hershey Med. Center

photo provided by Lisa Wawrziniak

Mobility is often taken for granted, but for those with disabilities, it can seem like a distant dream. However, for two disabled young children, several students in the gifted program are making that dream a reality by participating in the Go Baby Go project.

Freshman Joe Cerminara, sophomores Thomas Curtin and Timothy Sheffield and juniors Patrick Hansell and Jonas Funk modified two toy cars at Penn State Hershey Medical Center Dec. 17. These cars were given to children with disabilities to allow them to move independently and explore their environment.

“I think it’s important because kids like that don’t normally have toys that are well-suited for their needs,” said Hansell. “I feel like it was important to give them something that could meet their needs.”

To make the cars accessible for the children, the students needed to rewire them so that they could be driven without foot pedals. They also made modifications to each car to meet the specific needs of each child.

“The most challenging part was probably trying to figure out the wiring on the cars to make them work after we modified them,” said Hansell.

Despite the challenges, however, participating in the project provided the students with a learning experience.

“I feel like it taught us how to use our problem solving skills to fix the cars and modify them for the kids,” said Curtin.

Helping to modify the cars also allowed the students to experience some aspects of careers in engineering and the medical field.

“Students participating in the project are able to develop leadership and collaborative skills while exploring careers in healthcare and engineering, working with adult mentors, and giving back to the community,” said gifted support teacher Lisa Wawrziniak, who facilitated the project.

After they made all of the necessary modifications to the cars, the students were able to watch as the children tested them out.

“Spending an afternoon modifying a toy car for a young child with medical challenges that limit mobility is extremely rewarding when the car actually works and the little driver takes that first test drive,” said Wawrziniak.

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