Teens help disabled toddlers find the ‘Power to Move’ by putting them in the driver’s seat


NEW BRITAIN -- In a project meant to help children with disabilities, it's the teens who are doing all the heavy lifting.

Professors from Central Connecticut State University have enlisted middle and high school students to do much more than tinker with toys. They're learning about "The Power to Move."

The workshop called "The Power to Move" was held by CCSU's School of Engineering, Science and Technology, and comes from a program called "Go, Baby, Go," launched out of the University of Delaware.

The students in the workshop learn about combining biomedical engineering, exercise and movement, and assistive technologies by adapting battery-powered toy cars for children with disabilities and mobility issues.

"There are not electric powered wheelchairs for kids 2 and 3 years old," said Matt Martin, a CCSU associate professor of physical education and human performance. "This might be their first time getting a sense of moving independently."

From bright red toy Mercedes and miniaturized Mini Coopers, about a dozen students in the program were measuring, cutting and drilling on Friday to make the needed alterations so the toddlers with disabilities could sit in the drivers seat.

Michele Dischino, an associate professor of technology and engineering education, helped design the program.

"It's very rewarding," said Dischino. "My hope is that this experience for them might inspire them to think about engineering and technology as a career and see how you can use those skills to help people."

The program is just over two years old and has already seen 65 toy cars altered for adaptive riding. It's sponsored by donors like Stanley Black & Decker, the Petit Family Foundation and Whelen.

To find out more on the Power to Move program click here.