For most kids, running, jumping and riding a bike are normal activities, but for children with a disability, it can often mean they cannot get around and move with their peers.
But earlier Thursday, four children received a way to move around on their own.
This is 7-year-old Kyrie Leithold, and she is driving her own brand new power car, customized to meet her specific needs.
Kyrie is one of four children with special needs who were presented with their own vehicle. The modifications to the power cars were completed by students enrolled in the University of Mary’s physical therapy program.
“I don’t really know how to make or build a car, but I thought that this would be a real incredible way to serve the community and get involved to help the young people,” said student Elise Kraft.
Faculty members from the school’s engineering department worked with the physical therapy students to make sure the cars are custom-tailored to meet each child’s specific needs
In four of the last five years, the physical therapy program, with a donation from Kramer Chevrolet, has delivered power cars to children with special needs.
“Our job is to find ways for them to move and engage and interact with their families, and so we get creative,” said Dr. Heather Lundeen, an associate professor.
As each child was placed in their vehicle, it was clear from the families’ faces that they were as happy as the child…and that joy is echoed in their comments.
“For her to be able to do what the other kids do on their bikes with this is just awesome,” said mom Nicole Leithold.
“That’s the good thing with these cars is that it allows her to go where she wants rather than where we decide for her to go and she loves that, that freedom really helps out,” said dad Derek Leithold.
Kyrie’s big sister, Kinley, had a huge smile on her face when her sister first tried out the car, and she’s looking forward to doing more things with her.
“This one is bigger and it fits her well and that’s great because she likes going on walks with me and she’ll have a lot of fun it in,” said Kinley.
This event is part of a national program known as Go Baby Go, which was started a number of years ago at the University of Delaware.
There are now 40 such programs helping children with limited mobility move about more freely.