Cillian Jackson is a two-year-old boy from Minnesota. Because he was born with a genetic problem, he is unable to walk. That doesn’t mean that he is unable to move around and thanks to some students at a local high school, he is now getting around in style.
When the young lad’s physical therapist informed the parents about a program that provided modified toy cars to children with limited mobility, they got busy. The program is called Go Baby Go.
The Jackson family did not have a Go Baby Go chapter near their home and the price of a motorized wheelchair could easily run more than $1000. That is when they came up with a unique idea.
Rather than simply throwing up their hands and giving up, they turned to the robotics team at Farmington High School. They wanted to know if they would be willing to work on the project and they were happy to help.
The basis for their work came from the models used by Go Baby Go. They modified a Power Wheels toy car so it would fit Cillian and provide him with the movement they desired.
The Power Wheels toy car was provided by Cillian’s parents. The students had to hack the car, customizing the seat, redesigning the joystick and even rewriting the code for the electronics.
“Everything that we’ve been doing for robotics competitions … was directly relatable to this challenge,” Elvebak, the robotics coach said. “The students did the programming, they did all the wiring, they did all the work.”
The car originally moved forward or backward using two joysticks. That wasn’t enough for Cillian so they replaced the two joysticks with only one joystick. They then got busy rewriting so the electronics so they were responding to a single joystick that was multidirectional. Additionally, a custom mount was printed for the joystick so he could reach it.
Modifications to the seat were also necessary because the one that came with the car was too big. One that was suitable was purchased from Amazon along with a five-point harness so Cillian would be safe. It was then bolted into the existing seat.
“In education in general we tell (students) we’re giving you the tools to apply in the future and do something with this,” Elvebak said. “Here’s a perfect example of, ‘Wow, I do have the skills to wire, code, program and approach an engineering challenge.’”
Alex Treakle is a freshman at the high school and he also worked on the vehicle.
“I decided to get involved with the project because … I wanted to help someone, and it felt really good in the end,” Treakle said.
The moment that he saw him using the car it caused him to say: “The joy on his face really made my entire year.”
A week after presenting the car to Cillian, the students were reunited with him. The car was a total success.
Typically, the parents would carry the child around or put them in a stroller but now he has a lot of control over where he goes.
“When he gets in his car, he will consciously stop and look at a doorknob or a light switch or all of these things he’s never had time to explore,” said Cillian’s dad, Tyler Jackson.
Cillian’s mom, Krissy Jackson, added, “It really helped his discovery and curiosity. … Having the car has really given him the agency to make choices on his own.”
Eventually, Cillian will be able to get a motorized wheelchair through his insurance but until then, the modified car gives him lots of practice.
High school robotics team rebuilds motorized toy car for 2-year-old boy who can't walk
A Minnesota high school robotics team rebuilt a motorized toy car for a 2-year-old boy who can't walk. ❤️http://bit.ly/2I5otSlPosted by UpNorthLive on Wednesday, April 3, 2019