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Students team up with Eagles to help kids

Courtesy photo The Saint Francis University GoBabyGo chapter teamed up with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to bring custom-built motorized vehicles to children with disabilities.

LORETTO — The Saint Francis University GoBabyGo chapter teamed up with the Philadel-phia Eagles and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to bring custom-built motorized vehicles to children with disabilities.

Thirty-four physical therapy students and five faculty members attended the Partners and Power Wheels event Dec. 2 at Lincoln Financial Field.

GoBabyGo is a national organization that builds battery-powered, Power Wheels-brand cars for children with limited mobility.

The cars are modified to include hand-switch activation and posture supports so that the children are properly supported in the car.

“This is sometimes the first time families are seeing their kids move independently,” said Heather Mack, professor of physical therapy and assistant director of clinical education. “It really is life-changing for these kids. They are able to achieve some of those developmental milestones they would not be reaching by not having the means to explore their environment. And they get to do that using these cars.”

Mack started the Saint Francis GoBabyGo chapter in March 2019 as a way for physical therapy students to gain hands-on experience helping children in the community with limited mobility.

Following the blueprints provided by GoBabyGo, students reinforce safety straps, build customized supports and rewire the foot pedals so the accelerator will be accessible by hand.

On Nov. 22, students presented seven cars to local families.

Through a faculty development grant, the $300 value modified cars are free of charge for qualifying families.

Upon learning of SFU’s success with its GoBabyGo chapter, the Eagles invited the SFU physical therapy department to participate in their event Dec. 2.

The students built 13 cars that were presented to patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Several other community partners joined SFU students in Philadelphia, including alumnus and SFU pediatric residency graduate Bryelle Quirin from Kids First, Brian Martin, adult adaptive driving instructor from Brant’s School of Driving, and Michael Cook, who engineered a kicking mechanism that allowed children at the event to kick a football through a field goal.

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