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Good Move

UCF’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program is helping families transform motorized toy cars into a way for children to explore their environment.

Spring 2016 | By Laura J. Cole

Hundreds of Central Florida children are sitting still due to motor impairment, and Jennifer Tucker, a lecturer in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, is working to change that. Under her guidance, UCF is helping families transform motorized toy cars into a way for children to explore their environment. The university has hosted two workshops on campus as part of GoBabyGo, a program started at the University of Delaware that has developed an inexpensive way to retrofit existing cars with items such as foam pool noodles, kickboards and PVC pipes. And so far, the team at UCF has enabled 27 children to get moving.

“When she got in that car, it only took her a few seconds to figure it out. She was just laughing and laughing — and we had never experienced that before. It’s really been a blessing.”
Kay Bowman, grandmother of Ava, 2, who has neurological damage as a result of birth trauma

UCF physical therapy faculty members and students, administrators and engineering students, along with family and community members, participated in the second UCF GoBabyGo workshop on Dec. 4.

Community members retrofit motorized toy cars for young children with special needs.

For this event, teams worked with motorized convertible cars like this Lighting McQueen-inspired model from Disney’s Cars. 

With volunteer Byron Clerx, director of UCF’s School of Visual Arts and Design, 2-year-old Levi spins the wheels on a homemade wheelchair while waiting for his car to be ready.

In many cases, the smiles of parents were as large as their children.

The event also gave the children an opportunity to interact.

In total, 16 off-the-shelf toy cars were modified using readily available parts. 


Number of children age 0 to 3 in the U.S. receiving early intervention for mobility impairment and social limitations


Cost of a traditional power wheelchair*

*Very few children under the age of 3 are insured for power wheelchairs, even if needed. GoBabyGo vehicles do not replace power wheelchairs but instead offer early mobility for young children, encouraging increased social engagement and exploration, which in turn influences cognitive development.


Cost of toy vehicle retrofitted by GoBabyGo


Total number of volunteers at UCF workshops