Your Health: New program helps kids with cerebral palsy

Making sure every kid gets a pass to the fast lane.
A nationwide program is getting kids with cerebral palsy, down syndrome, or other birth defects moving, and steering a path for their success.
Published: Oct. 27, 2022 at 11:30 AM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Cerebral palsy, down syndrome, or certain birth defects are just some of the conditions that may cause limited mobility for kids.

They can also create barriers that keep them from interacting with other children. Now a nationwide program is getting these kids moving and steering a path for their success.

Two-year-old Theodore Sherrill is all about playtime.

“He loves to play,” says Theodore’s mom Suzanne Sherrill. “He loves to do just what everybody else his age loves to do.”

That’s not always easy since Theodore has down syndrome.

“The kids with special needs are usually delayed in how they can move,” Amber Yampolsky, a physical therapist at Nemours Children’s Hospital We want to try to give them the ability to move either on time or at least earlier than they would if we kind of waited for their development to progress.”

That is the mission of Go Baby Go, a program designed to build adaptive toy cars to get kids with mobility impairments moving.

“We believe that mobility is a human right,” says Jennifer Tucker, a clinical associate professor at the University of Central Florida.

“A lot of kids with special needs don’t have the ability to do the foot pedals or to do the steering, so we’re able to adapt the cars so that they just have a button on them,” said Yampolsky. “And the kids, even with a very limited amount of mobility, are able to push that button and make the car go.”

The first time three-year-old Haddie Ortiz, who has mild cerebral palsy, got to ride in her car was moving for her, and her mom.

“She’s excited,” said Rachel Ortiz, Haddie’s Mom. I think it’s one of those things she is going to have control over something that is usually hard for her.”

The same is true for Theodore, who is not letting anything put the brakes on his fun.

“He doesn’t want to be left out just because he is rocking an extra chromosome,” said Suzanne Sherrill.

“That day isn’t about anything that their child cannot do, it’s about everything their child can do,” said Tucker.

Making sure every kid gets a pass to the fast lane.

Go Baby Go was founded at the University of Delaware, but there are several chapters around the country. The chapter at the University of Central Florida has been around since 2015 and has given more than 160 cars to kids.

Typically, when a child outgrows their car, they can bring it back, and the car gets a tune-up before being given to another kid.

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