Middle-schoolers don’t usually play with toy cars. But in a classroom in Arlington, Virginia, a group of sixth-graders gather around a plastic Lightning McQueen car, ready to rev it up.

The students not there to play with it, exactly, but to figure out how it works — and prepare the car for a driver who needs it.

Eight students from Gunston Middle School are rewiring the battery-powered car as part of GoBabyGo, a worldwide effort to help kids with disabilities move and play. The project helps kids around age 3 who have trouble moving on their own and who wouldn’t be able to drive the cars otherwise, whether because they can’t hit the accelerator or can’t sit securely.

“Other kids on the playground can say, ‘That’s a cool car; that’s not a wheelchair!’ ” says Skye Donovan, chairwoman of the physical therapy department at Marymount University. Donovan is teaching the students how to rewire electrical circuits with the help of their science teacher, Luzdary Chamorro.

Cole Galloway, a physical therapy professor at the University of Delaware and a friend of Donovan’s, co-founded GoBabyGo in 2006. He has provided instructional materials and posted YouTube videos to help teachers and students make these cars so that kids around the world can feel what it’s like to move quickly on their own. Read more.

Skip to content