GoBabyGoTH is Thailand's first-ever GoBabyGo chapter, an organization begun by the University of Delaware that builds electric toy cars for children ages five and under suffering from physical abilities that take away their ability to walk. It was founded by Saran (Mighty) Burapachaisri, Krittin (Kris) Hirunchunpong, and Sarat (Matthew) Lowe, a group of students from Ruamrudee International School who are passionate about engineering and are finding ways to apply STEM to support the underprivileged.
As of 2018, in Thailand, there are more than 14,686 disabled children ages 0-5 years old (Report on Disability Situation in Thailand 2561). Furthermore, Thailand has a highly stigmatized culture regarding the disabled; thus, through modified ride-on toy cars, GoBabyGo hopes to provide disabled children with assistive and rehabilitative technology to help children co-create their world through social mobility. GoBabyGo also hopes to empower children with disabilities and celebrate the diversity of kids.
The process of modifying the ride-on cars is quite simple. For the first car, the GoBabyGo team took a generic electrical ride-on car and rewired the foot switch. Instead of the accelerator being on the bottom, the team rewired it to make the accelerator accessible to physically disabled kids. To provide extra support and safety, the GoBabyGo added pool noodles, PVCs, and a backboard which is all very simple materials. At first glance, GoBabyGo cars are just toy cars. However, anyone who can see its effect on a physically disabled kid and the people around them knows that GoBabyGo is much more than that, as seen in their latest visit to Camillian Home.
This past Wednesday, October 6th, GoBabyGoTH's Executive Team came to Camillian Home to donate their first-ever GoBabyGo modified ride-on toy car to น้องภาวิน, a three-year-old with physical disabilities. Since birth, น้องภาวิน was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and syndactyly causing his hand and feet to be deformed. Furthermore, น้องภาวิน had just recently recovered from Covid-19.
During Wednesday's session, น้องภาวิน was initially very shy and reserved, sighting and calling for his mother whenever left alone for too long. However, upon introducing น้องภาวิน to the GoBabyGo ride-on toy car, his face lit up with excitement and joy. น้องภาวิน has never seen a toy like this one before- a modified ride-on car made customized purely for him. He was ecstatic to get in the car and freely move without his disabilities restricting him.
น้องภาวิน's favorite part of the car was its wide range of music selections and the car's horn sound. When the three founders taught him to turn on the car's music player, he could not stop himself from laughing and dancing to Crazy Frog by Axel F! This brought smiles to both his parents and the nurses at Camillian Home who knew of น้องภาวิน's extensive history of self-harm. น้องภาวิน's mom explained that before coming to Camillian Home, น้องภาวิน could not control his anger of not being able to move around freely and would often harm himself. After seeing น้องภาวิน playing with the car, the whole room lit up with joy.
When asked about GoBabyGo's benefits, both น้องภาวิน's parents and physical therapist believed that it will allow น้องภาวิน to better interact with his friends and can even be used as a rehabilitative tool. "น้องภาวิน just started moving his hands not so long ago. I think practicing pressing the accelerator will help strengthen his muscles," said Ms. Sukanya Nuanwun, one of Camillian Home's physical therapists who has worked with น้องภาวิน.
When asked if GoBabyGo has the potential to help other kids with physical disabilities, Ms. Sukanya replied with no hesitation. She introduced us to Aron, a permanent resident at Camillian Home with deformities in his hands and feet. The GoBabyGo Executive team taught Aron how the car is operated, and he quickly learned. Much like น้องภาวิน, Aron very much enjoyed the car. Even when we told him the car needed to recharge, he insisted on climbing back in!
Not only do GoBabyGo cars have a positive impact on the lives of physically disabled kids, but it also brings joy to those that love and care for them, such as their parents or guardians. After seeing this effect firsthand, GoBabyGoTH will continue building modified ride-on cars to make a positive impact on as many lives as possible. After all, mobility is a human right.