GoBabyGo Early-Intervention Program Continues to Expand

When Cole Galloway and Sunil Agrawal founded the GoBabyGo program at the University of Delaware in 2006, their mission was to provide independent mobility as early as possible to special needs children. The robotic vehicles that Galloway and Agrawal developed were successfully operated by very young children, including infants. But the vehicles were too heavy and far too costly to provide to all the children who needed them.

A trip to Toys R Us brought inspiration: How about using battery-powered ride-on toy cars, the ones that look like miniature Jeeps or BMWs or the tow truck Mater from the Pixar film Cars?

GoBabyGo team members modified the toy vehicles so they could be driven by hand with a switch button on the steering wheel instead of foot pedals. For kids who needed postural support, the team added seating systems made of PVC pipes and covered them with colorful pool noodle segments. What they didn’t have to create was the vehicles’ built-in aesthetic appeal. And since each toy vehicle cost just a few hundred dollars, the GoBabyGo team had found an affordable vehicle to use as a mobility base.

Fast forward 10 years, and the GoBabyGo program has been duplicated throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in countries such as Israel, Spain and Poland.

A July story in the Concord Insider described how a parent of a child with cerebral palsy founded the New Hampshire GoBabyGo program. This spring, that team modified ride-on vehicles for eight special needs children.

The University of Delaware’s GoBabyGo Web site offers tips on how communities can launch their own versions of the program, and also provides a list of local contacts.

“Human mobility is a human right,” Galloway said in a 2014 TEDMED talk on the GoBabyGo program. “Active, independent mobility literally changes our view of the world.”

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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