Geeks for Kids invites professional engineers, college roboticists, high school robotics teams and other geeks to modify electric, toy cars so that little kids with mobility challenges can play with others and explore their environment on their own. Over 500,000 American kids under the age of five have mobility problems, and few have access to devices that give them free movement. (Most insurance programs only provide electric wheelchairs for kids who are five years old and up, and few parents can afford them. Electric wheelchairs cost approximately $17,000 each.) This lack of independent movement severely limits younger kids’ interactions with their environment and with other kids.
Without free movement, these kids cannot grow and learn as their peers do. Even older kids with wheelchairs are often left on the sidelines as other kids run and play. The latest study, published recently in the journal Pediatric Physical Therapy, compared the activity of typically-developing toddlers to those with disabilities. The researchers found that typically-developing toddlers spend about an hour per day in direct play interactions with their peers, while toddlers with disabilities affecting mobility spend only six to twenty minutes per day in similar interactions.
The goal of Geeks for Kids is to change the way these kids experience their world. We want to give them a chance to move about and explore freely – not experience life as passive observers from strollers and wheelchairs. Plus, we want to give these kids a vehicle that excites and engages their peers and encourages them to play together.
"Research shows kids’ interaction with [these rideable] cars helps advance developmental, physical, social, language and cognitive skills," reports Sam Logan, assistant professor at Oregon State University's College of Public Health and Human Sciences.