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High school students engineer toy cars for disabled children to get around
Students at William Davies Jr. Career and Technical High School are creating mobility for disabled children with modified toy cars. (WJAR)

Some students at William Davies Jr. Career and Technical High School have been working to give the gift of mobility to disabled kids.

A few months ago, Dean Plowman, the chairman of engineering at New England Tech, heard about a national program he wanted Rhode Island to be a part of.

“It’s called the ‘Go Baby Go’ program there’s chapters throughout the country,” said Plowman. “So, on our end, we build the cars. Then bring them here.”

The program’s purpose is to enrich students to learn with a purpose.

“It’s technology and actually doing good work for the community,” said Plowman. “And I think it's really good for the students to be reaching out to the community.”

A few months ago, Plowman dropped off two kids-sized cars that look similar to life-sized hot wheels.

Originally, they’re built as a toy for small kids to play with but thanks to the efforts of Davies students, they’ve been turned into actual transportation for children who have limited mobility.

Plowman worked with Ed Martins to bring the program to the high school.

Martins is a pre-engineering teacher at Davies and loved the idea of it.

“This is what I call a kiddy car. It’s specifically for children, small children,” said Martins. “When my students are done with it, as you can see here, the accelerator has been moved up to the wheel, so a child that is disabled -- say from the waist down -- can use their hands in order to drive the car backward or forwards.”

The college had painted and prepared them.

Everything else was done by Martin’s students, primarily those in grades 11 and 12.

“It was interesting to see how it was built and re-wire one, it was difficult at first,” said Christian Seneeo, a student.

“It was a lot of trial and error seeing what wires go into what slot, making it all work,” added classmate, Jayden Medeiros.

Because of the pandemic, the small recoup of student’s schedules were limited but they all came together with the common goal to finish them.

“It’s a team. It’s teamwork, I think it’s very positive,” said Martins. “My students can empathize with the child that is disabled and them knowing there’s a purpose, the effort is even raised higher to modify the car for the child.”

That’s something students agreed with.

“On days when I knew I would be working on it, I kind of woke up extra early that day and it just gave me a little bit of a pep in my step. I would give 110% because I knew it would be going to them,” said Tyler Brooks, a senior. “For me, it’s been very good to work on a car that I know is going to help a little kid out.”

Within the last few months, many of the students have stayed after school to work on the cars.

“We want them to have a good childhood instead of feeling down about themselves because they’re disabled,” said Jean Preira, a senior. “The didn’t feel like work, it was fun.”

The cars are custom to both boys and girls.

They’ve got cool designs on the sides and backs of them.

The students noted riding around in something like the car instead of a wheelchair might give them a sense of normalcy.

“It will give them a total boost of confidence which I think is really good for them especially at such a young age,” said Brooks.

“I think it would be a nicer alternative for them,” added Medeiros. “Being able to do things that a normal kid, that doesn’t have disability, would be able to do, be able to ride.”

Once both cars are completed, they will go back to New England Tech and be inspected for quality control.

Then, they will find families to donate them to. The students will also be graded.

“I’m proud and I’m impressed,” Martins said of his students. “They really care about this, it’s great to see.”

“To me, it’s not about the grade. I think it’s more your impacting somebody’s life who’s probably never going to forget that,” said Medeiros.

“There there are just no words for me,” added Seneeo. “It’s great.”

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