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Alumni News Kevin Storr July 09, 2019

On Saturday, June 8, 2019, faculty and alumni from the UAB Department of Physical Therapy, along with students from the UAB Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program, were joined by students from UAB’s Department of Occupational Therapy and School of Engineering, to adapt electric toy cars for Alabama children with disabilities.

The collaboration, part of the Birmingham chapter of GoBabyGo, provides modified ride-on cars for children with special needs. Research shows that a developing child gets about 500 hours of play each year, while a child with special needs gets about 100 hours of play per year. The personalized rides provide added mobility that allows the child with disabilities to further explore surroundings and adapt to play with other children – all of which is vital to their childhood, social, cognitive, and motor development.

Adair Fuller RightAdair Fuller (pictured right, far right), alumna of the UAB School of Health Professions’ DPT program (Class of 2018), organized the event from her current home in Demopolis, Alabama – nearly two hours away from the Magic City.

“Why not?!?!? I was raised to always give back – if you have something to give, money or time or skills – then you should be motivated to help others and that is a big part of why I do this,” said Fuller, a physical therapist at Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital. “I loved the Birmingham community while I was at UAB and I love the children I worked with. Studies show that if children with disabilities have the opportunity to keep up and interact with other children then they will thrive. I want to give all children that opportunity and so they all have a leg up in life.”

Fuller volunteered at the first GBG Birmingham event at The Bell Center for Early Interventions in 2017. In 2018, she took over the program and has since seen 18 cars built by the GBG Birmingham volunteers.

The local chapter purchases the toy cars for the families and modifies them – using plastic pipes, foam rollers, kick boards and other items – to make them safe and comfortable for the children. After the build, the families keep the car. Thanks to local support and student efforts, there is zero cost for the family.

“Families face so many barriers in trying to access therapy support for their children,” said Fuller. “GoBabyGo will never be an expense to a family – we will not place any more barriers in the way of a family helping their child.”

GoBabyGo 04Established in Delaware in 2012, GoBabyGo is a nationwide all-volunteer program. Families work with clinicians, engineers, students and more to build pediatric equipment for children with limited mobility. The Birmingham chapter of GBG includes therapists from Children’s of Alabama, faculty from UAB, and students from UAB and Samford University.

For Fuller, helping children today is an expansion of her own childhood. In her early home of Bristol, Virginia, she rang The Salvation Army bell, served meals in soup kitchens, and delivered Meals on Wheels with her mom. Her church even had a van that drove around the community providing medical care to the underserved and those without insurance.

Witnessing the direct impact you can have on people’s health, impacted Fuller greatly.

“As a teenager I babysit a girl with cerebral palsy and the doctors told her parents that she would never be able to walk or talk again, however, therapy gave them her life back – therapy gave them everything the doctors said she wouldn’t have,” said Fuller. “Children are resilient – do not put them in a ‘box’ and do not tell them they can’t do something – just give them the right tools and the right people and they can and will.”

Fuller is planning two more GoBabyGo builds for Birmingham children in the fall. She is also working on a build for children in Demopolis. This effort is scheduled for November and will be the first GoBabyGo effort in Marengo County. That build is timed out so local children will be able to show off their new rides in the annual Christmas on the River parade in Demopolis.

To learn more about GoBabyGo visit their website: www.gobabygobhm.org.

We would like to add a special thank you to Matheus De Souza, a second-year UAB Doctor of Physical Therapy student, for allowing us to share his wonderful photographs of the event.

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