Unique local collaboration give kids with disabilities the gift of mobility

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OSF’s Children’s Hospital of Illinois and 2 other organizations are pairing up to improve quality of life for Central Illinois kids.

Engineering and robotics students also came out and played an important role in changing the lives of 6 local children.

These kids are ready to move! Which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for these children, it’s a life changing moment.

Dr. Susan Caldecott-Johnson is the Division Chief of Childhood Development for UICOMP.

She says, “It’s tough for a parent to watch their child wanting to explore their environment and being limited by their physical disability that they’ve had to cope with.”

They’re patients at OSF St. Francis Medical Center, all of them having some form of disability that limits their movement.

Brianna Graham is a Mother to one of those kids.

She says, “Knox has a very rare genetic condition, it’s kind of specific to him. Movements that would be easy for you and I are just hard for him, so at a year and a half old, he doesn’t sit by himself, he doesn’t walk by himself.”

Kids like Knox are the reason why OSF are customizing vehicles to fit their specific needs.

Dr. Susan says, “Most of these children are unable to drive with their feet, so priority number one is to rewire the car and put a switch on the steering wheel somewhere that helps them to make the car go, basically functions as the gas pedal for them.”

Graham says, “Something like this is just gonna be huge for him. We’ve got a big enough floor plan on our house that he can ride it around inside and I think that he will just absolutely love it.”

Giving anyone the gift of movement is something special, and seeing the smiles on their faces when they see their own cars is priceless.

Dr. Susan says, “This is what it’s all about. It’s not about what medicine we give them or what brace we put on a child, but are we getting them closer to being, to doing what kids should be doing and that is to play.”

Graham says, “It does mean so much to us as parents of a special needs child and just seeing him have the opportunity to do something that will make him feel normal is….you can’t even put it into words.”

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