Children's Specialized Hospital and Toyota Reved Up For a Good Cause

October 24, 2017

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ: On October 14, 2017, the Greater New York Toyota Dealers Association handed over the keys of mobility to engineers and clinicians at Children’s Specialized Hospital as they teamed up in the ‘pit’ to build adaptive, custom motorized cars for kids with special healthcare needs. In partnership with Go Baby Go, a national non-profit program, children with disabilities will get a jump-start on their cognitive, language and motor skills – all while having fun.

That morning a dozen Toyota volunteers joined Hospital staff, community volunteers, patients and families to assemble 15 customized vehicles at the Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Volunteers presented the cars to the children, after which a check presentation was made announcing Toyota’s commitment to fund 100 customized cars for children built throughout the year.  Following an official ‘tune-up’ performed by the Hospital’s physical therapists, children got to go home with their sweet new rides!

“Getting kids to ride in motorized cars may seem like child’s play, but it takes on additional importance when those children have complex medical needs,” said Danielle Rupp, physical therapist at Children’s Specialized Hospital. “By modifying ride-on cars like the ones found at any major retailer, we can safely provide kids with limited mobility a new sense of freedom.”

These motorized toy cars are electrically modified to be accessible by a push-button switch. This simple change in the structure of the vehicle gives children with special needs the ability to operate the toys unaided—an important step in establishing self-awareness and independence. In addition to providing enhanced support for children who have difficulties keeping their bodies propped up, the car seats will be outfitted with extra straps, so that children with limited mobility have the opportunity to explore their world on their own for the first time.

“The Greater New York Toyota Dealers Association is proud to have contributed to the Children’s Specialized Hospital’s “Go Baby Go!” program, helping to provide fun and functional ride-on cars that allow children with disabilities to enjoy independence while exploring their world,” said Board President Dennis Lauzon on behalf of the Greater New York Toyota dealers.

Started in 2012, Go Baby Go is a non-profit research program created by James C. (Cole) Galloway, PT, PhD, Professor of Biomechanics and Movement Sciences in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Delaware (UD). He is also Director of UD’s Infant Motor Behavior Lab, Co-Director of UD’s Pediatric Mobility Lab and Design Studio. Go Baby Go offers a wheelchair alternative for children who aren't able to walk or need assistance. The effort doesn't replace wheelchairs but provides a fun, temporary supplement.

“Fun is key here,” Dr. Galloway has said about Go Baby Go. “It unlocks brain development and exploratory drive for the child, and it ignites active, engaged play from adults and peers.” The program empowers kids to be a part of the action at home, in the daycare center, or on the playground.

Children’s Specialized Hospital, the largest pediatric rehabilitation hospital network in the country, was the first New Jersey chapter of Go Baby Go. Through the program, thousands of parents, clinicians, students and community members have helped modify ride-on cars for kids with disabilities. Today Go Baby Go boasts 75 chapters nationwide and is gaining international traction.

“Thanks to corporate partners like Toyota, we’re able to help children with limited mobility get into the action,” said Philip Salerno III, president and chief development officer, Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation. “The Go Baby Go program is a fun and interactive initiative that supports our vision here at Children's Specialized Hospital – a world where all children can reach their full potential.”

Click here to view our fall 2017 Go Baby Go Build Day powered by Toyota.

Children’s Specialized Hospital, a nonprofit organization, is leading the way into a brighter future for children and adolescents facing special health challenges – from chronic illnesses and complex physical disabilities like brain and spinal cord injuries, to developmental and behavioral issues like autism and mental health. Children’s Specialized Hospital Foundation supports the programs and services of the hospital and all donations go directly to helping us pioneer new specialized care and serve more children in need. To help, or for more information: visit www.childrens-specialized.org; find us on Facebook - www.facebook.com/childrensspecialized, or follow us on Twitter @ChildrensSpecNJ.

About Toyota
Toyota (NYSE:TM), creator of the Prius and the Mirai fuel cell vehicle, is committed to advancing mobility through our Toyota and Lexus brands.  Over the past 60 years, we’ve produced more than 30 million cars and trucks in North America, where we operate 14 manufacturing plants (10 in the U.S.) and directly employ more than 44,000 people (more than 34,000 in the U.S.).  Our 1,800 North American dealerships (nearly 1,500 in the U.S.) sold almost 2.6 million cars and trucks (2.45 million in the U.S.) in 2016 – and about 85 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold over the past 15 years are still on the road today.  

Toyota partners with community, civic, academic, and governmental organizations to address our society’s most pressing mobility challenges. We share company resources and extensive know-how to support non-profits to help expand their ability to assist more people move more places. For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyotanewsroom.com