photo: UD GoBabyGo Facebook page

A program started at the University of Delaware is helping children who aren’t able to walk or need assistance to get around. Experts say it’s important to enable and encourage independent movement among children with special needs at a young age, but motorized wheelchairs can cost $17,000 or more and be intimidating for little ones. Luckily, Cole Galloway, a professor of physical therapy, found a fun solution.

The GoBabyGo wheelchair alternative? Motorized toy cars. Kid-sized car designs you can find in stores, ranging from convertibles to all-terrain models, are modified for kids with wide-ranging conditions, from down syndrome to health needs that require the aid of a ventilator. They don’t replace wheelchairs entirely, but provide a temporary supplement that kids enjoy.

One of the impressive aspects is the low cost. For example, GoBabyGo can replace a mini-car’s typical activation switch with tools adapted to children’s abilities and add new seats for extra support. The cost for these modifications is about $200.

The program now has 75 chapters nationwide and has modified 5,000 toy cars for infants and kids up to three years old. It has even opened chapters internationally in places like New Zealand and Israel.

For more information on GoBabyGo or to learn about their other projects, check out the UD GoBabyGo site or their Facebook page.

What do you think of the GoBabyGo project? Share your thoughts in the comments below.