The Kiwanis Club of Forest Park joined several other local Kiwanis Clubs and Key Clubs for the 2018 GoBabyGo project in collaboration with the Illinois Spina Bifida Association (ISBA), Shirley Ryan AbilityLabs of Northwestern University and Shriners Hospital for Children. GoBabyGo is a national, community-based research, design and outreach program that provides modified ride-on cars to children who experience limited mobility. Because of the Spastic Paralysis Research Foundation’s support of Spina Bifida Research, the River Forest-Oak Park (RFOP) Kiwanis Club collaborated with the ISBA to identify children who would benefit. 

The program began in 2012 with founder Cole Galloway at the University of Delaware. Integrating assistive technology, families, clinicians and industry partners, the program provides children with disability the opportunity for movement, mobility and socialization and has been expanding ever since. RFOP Kiwanis member Arun Jayaraman, who heads up a robotic lab at AbilityLab, brought the project to the club. This is the fourth year the club has led the project. Engineers and clinicians from Shriners Hospital, Lurie’s Children’s Hospital and AbilityLabs also participated. 

The cars are specially adapted to accommodate the mobility needs of the child, with relocated go pedals and special emergency shutoff switches. Other harnesses and devices are added as needed. 

Joining Forest Park Kiwanians were the Kiwanis Clubs of Montclare/ Elmwood Park, Northlake, River Forest-Oak Park, Bensenville/ Wooddale/ Franklin Park, Lombard, St. Charles Noon, Woodstock, Glen Ellyn, Norridge/ Harwood Heights, Decatur Golden K and Tri-County (Sandwich, Il.). Also participating were Key Club members from Guerin Prep, and Marion Central High School. 

At the end of the day, 12 toddlers were able to drive home in their new BMWs and show off to their friends. These cars are the first step for these toddlers toward learning how to work with assisted mobility equipment and developing a sense of being independent. 

The Kiwanis Clubs also provides support through the District Foundation Camp Independence, which teaches children with spina bifida ages 6 years and older how to take care of themselves and enjoy all the fun things other kinds enjoy at a summer camp. 

Learn more about Kiwanis at #kidsneedkiwanis or your local Kiwanis Club website. 

Gerald Lordan

Forest Park Kiwanis Club