‘Go Baby Go’ car gives gift of accessibility

Some Dakota State University students acted as Santa’s helpers this past fall, adapting a ride-on electric car for a child in Aberdeen.

The “Go Baby Go” program was originally founded as part of a research project at the University of Delaware. Volunteers have now been trained in more than 40 communities around the world, including South Dakota, through a partnership with DSU and the non-profit LifeScape.  

Nicole Koskovich, program development manager and physical therapist with LifeScape, said this is DSU’s fourth “build” with LifeScape. The cars help provide children with early mobility, which promotes other mobility skills. They work closely with the families to determine needed modifications, such as adequate support getting in and out of the car, driving care and accessibility.

A Go Baby Go car can cost around $1,000 on average, to purchase the car and refit the vehicle with necessary modifications. This particular build was also a new partnership with DSU’s CybHER program, which supplied the Mercedes car, which features two seats and cargo space.  This build was to have taken place in conjunction with the summer CybHER GenCyber girls camp, with the middle-school age campers helping with the project. The pandemic caused the camp to be moved to a virtual, fall event, so the project adapted into a volunteer effort by several students. 

Dr. Justin Blessinger, DSU Professor of English, said the DSU students were able to learn things such as the importance of measurement, and working with tools, but they also brought ideas to the project. He said the focus of the entire project is on the child and getting to see their reaction when they get the car.