GoBabyGo started as an initiative by paediatric researcher Cole Galloway, Professor Physical Therapy at the University of Delware, USA. “We studied mobility, and immobility, and how that impacts a childʼs ability to learn and socialise with peers, and what we see is a striking difference.”
So he launched GoBabyGo in 2006 to ensure children who had problems with mobility but were too young for an electric wheelchair could learn about exploring.
He worked out a reliable and affordable way to modify off-the-shelf toy cars so that children who canʼt crawl or walk normally could become part of the action at home, at kindergarten or in playgrounds. And he developed that system to work with children right from the age at which theyʼd normally start shuffling around the house – from six months old and up.
“Fun is key here—it unlocks brain development and exploratory drive for the child, and ignites active, engaged play from adults and peers,” Galloway says.
But instead of patenting his system and selling it, heʼs made it available to parents and medical staff around the world who also see a need to get young children mobile, and who realise the ability to move independently of parents and carers is a vital part of learning spatial awareness and injecting normalcy to socialisation with siblings, peers and authority figures – like parents and teachers.
Here in New Zealand, while we have a good disability equipment funding scheme, children and families are often not ready to go into wheelchairs and powerchairs. The GoBabyGo cars are age-appropriate mobility devices that encourage interaction with siblings and friends, and also offer mobility to assist with a childʼs overall therapy programme and development.
We are working with our partners and supporters to bring mobility to New Zealand children who will benefit, at no cost to their families, initially liaising with hospitals – starting with Kidzfirst and Nelson Hospital – before rolling GoBabyGo out to the rest of New Zealand to help all young Kiwi kids who have trouble moving on their own.
A small team establishes each childʼs specific requirements alongside their doctors, specialists and parents – such as whether they need encouragement to sit upright – identifies an appropriate toy vehicle on which to work, then makes stop, go, steering and protective adaptations tailored to suit the individual child. The electric vehicles are rechargeable, and battery powered.
GoBabyGo! Is an incorporated Society with an organising board.