Barstow students build adapted cars for local kids with special needs

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Barstow School students showcased their skills Friday by creating adaptive vehicles for local children.

The students built cars for Go Baby Go, a Variety KC program that takes average toy ride-on cars and adapts them for toddlers with special needs.

"This is a student project, so it's a really great way to kind of infuse meaning and empathy into sort of the technology aspect of teaching," said Gavin Wood, the school's robotics coach.

The students made all kinds of changes from the simple to the complex.

"If I'm a child who has difficulty moving my legs and and I can't push a foot pedal, we may put a button or a lever on the steering wheel, so that child is able to access the car and make it go, and then they can play and have fun!" said Kendra Gagnon, director of Go Baby Go.

For the kids who got an adaptive car Friday and their parents, the independence the toy cars offer is exciting.

"This is Nathaniel's first chance at independent mobility," said Katie Minnick, who's son got a ride-on car. "He loves to go fast. He loves to drive all over the place in his stroller, and we have a little tricycle at home. So this is so cool for him to get the opportunity to go crazy."

Minnick said little things like an adapted vehicle and the independence it offers are a big deal for her son.

"We take for granted that we can move on our own, that we can walk, that we can choose where we want to go," she said. "Nathaniel relies on somebody to pick him up and carry him everywhere he goes, so this is the first time Nathaniel can actually, by his own choice, to move himself around."

And it wasn't just an exciting day for the little kids.

"I really enjoy seeing the kids faces. That's the most priceless thing. When they first come in and they see it for the first time, they're like 'Oh my gosh, this shiny car is mine!' and they get in it, and their face just lights up," said Lexis Dixon, a Barstow sophomore.

"We are just in awe watching these kids and these students work together to build this car for Nathaniel. I mean, it's amazing just the thought that goes into it," Minnick said.

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