WVU crowdfunding effort aims to support Go Baby Go program, provide ride-on cars for children with disabilities

BUCKHANNON — Go Baby Go, a student-led service project providing modified battery-powered ride-on cars for children with limited mobility, is the focus of a crowdfunding effort launched by the West Virginia University School of Medicine in partnership with the WVU Foundation.

The goal for this campaign is to raise $3,000, which will allow the program to purchase between six and 10 ride-on cars for children. Students in the Division of Occupational Therapy and Division of Physical Therapy will then customize each car to meet each child’s needs. This service is provided to children in West Virginia and surrounding areas.

Go Baby Go is a nationwide education and outreach project that began at the University of Delaware to help children with disabilities increase their independence by allowing them to move around and explore their environment. The program at WVU continues this mission with the knowledge that mobility is essential for children’s development.

“The Go Baby Go Program is immensely rewarding, beginning with the moment of seeing a child operate their own toy car independently despite any barriers that are present,” Alexa Morgan, an occupational therapy student involved with Go Baby Go, said. “One aspect that makes the GBG Program at WVU unique is that it is free to the families involved, so we are not only tailoring the cars to the child’s needs, but promoting accessibility for the families as well.”

In the past two years, the WVU Go Baby Go program has adapted 12 cars for children with disabilities in the tri-state area. 

Because these cars are provided to participating families at no cost, the Go Baby Go program fully relies on donations. Some of the modifications available to the children include seating support, steering modifications, and changing activation control from a foot to a hand-activated switch.

Carrie Smith-Bell, OTR/L and Richelle Gray, OTR/L faculty members in the Division of Occupational Therapy, and MaryBeth Mandich, Ph.D. PT, vice dean for Health Professions and professor for the Division of Physical Therapy, supervise students involved with the Go Baby Go program.

“The mission of the program was to provide a fun method of mobility for children with disabilities and to enable them to move as independently as possible,” Smith-Bell said. “Children learn by moving, exploring and interacting with the toys, items and people in their environments. Increasing a child’s ability to engage in play and have fun with siblings, cousins and peers is a primary goal of many caregivers who apply for a Go Baby Go car, as play is the primary occupation of childhood, and develops so many necessary skills.”

Gifts to support the crowdfunding effort can be made securely online at give.wvu.edu/gobabygo. All donations are made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University, and go toward the WVU Go Baby Go project.

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