The public will be able to see five toddlers demonstrate their GoBabyGo! cars during this week’s First Friday event.

Over the last three years, Edgewood Middle School students taking part in GoBabyGo! have been modifying 12-volt vehicles for toddlers that have developmental disabilities.

In 2019, the program started modifying three cars.  This year, it is modifying five cars, said Abbi Richcreek, EMS Project Lead The Way teacher.

Each car is represented by a group of students with engineers from the community. Students are collaborating with the engineers, designing and building the 12-volt cars.

The engineers that worked on the Jeeps come from DePuy, Dalton Foundries, Zimmer Biomet and Paragon Medical. Others working on the Jeeps include a physical therapist from Kosciusko Community Hospital, Dr. Aaron Turner; and EMS students, Richcreek said.

Donations to help modify the Jeeps came from Warsaw Veterans of Foreign Wars, Stookey Construction, Everest Excavating, ClearWater Car Wash, E Investments and a private donation from the Nick Stouder family.

“I could not do this without our mentors. They make this project possible,” Richcreek said.  

The cars are given to the toddlers to use.  

“We hope that this creates independence and motivation for the toddlers,” Richcreek said.

Most of the cars include sensory objects and other ways for the toddlers to manipulate items to help them.

The Jeeps are modified in five to six sessions that run for two hours each. Students can work on the car during their student resource time; depending on the type of the modifications, some cars have more time put into them, she said.

Sessions include EMS students and mentors being placed on their teams where each team talks to the toddler and their family to get to know them. Other sessions include design/build sessions, Richcreek said.

The location of Edgewood's GoBabyGo! booth/area will be on Center Street across from City Hall plaza.  

“This (the First Friday demonstration) is a celebration of the project. Students, toddlers, parents of toddlers and mentors will be present 5:30 to 6:30. We want to display the hard work of the EMS students and mentors. This is truly a collaborative effort. This project is a real-world, hands-on, minds-on endeavor. Each Jeep is modified specifically for each toddler. The toddlers are allowed to take the jeeps home with them after 6:30. There is no cost involved for the parents for their Jeep.  We hope that this modified Jeep promotes social independence. The EMS students have also incorporated sensory objects on the Jeeps. We hope that these sensory objects will engage their senses,” said Richcreek.

During the demonstration, the toddlers will be driving the cars around the GoBabyGo! area. EMS students will be present assisting the toddlers. Mentors also will be on hand.

“This is our end-of-the-project celebration. The toddlers will be learning how to operate their Jeep. Parents will learn about the features that the modified cars have to offer. We will be displaying our hard work for the community to see and judge,” Richcreek said.

Richcreek said she hopes the public will be able to see how the toddlers can be independent and the event can demonstrate the embracing of inclusiveness.