High School Students Built a Robotic Wheelchair – and Gave It to This Toddler Who Can’t Walk
Cillian Jackson is two years old and an adorable, active toddler, but the way he gets around is unique. He can’t walk due to a genetic condition, but he still wants to get around like any kid; he just needs a bit of help. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes from the most unexpected of places.
Cillian’s physical therapist, based in Minnesota, looked into a program called Go Baby Go, which creates modified toy cars for kids that have trouble getting around. Unfortunately, there was no Go Baby Go program near the Jackson’s family home in Farmington, Minnesota. The only other option was a motorized wheelchair, but those can cost over $1,000, which just wasn’t in the family’s budget.
Cillian’s parents were forced to get a little creative and paid a visit to the robotics team at the nearby Farmington High School. They asked the students if they could DIY a toy car for Cillian. The team of teenagers was up for the challenge, and with the help of plans from Go Baby Go, they started their project, basing their modifications on a Power Wheels toy car.
“Everything that we’ve been doing for robotics competitions … was directly relatable to this challenge,” robotics coach Spencer Elvebak told CNN. “The students did the programming, they did all the wiring, they did all the work.”
“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.'”
“I decided to get involved with the project because … I wanted to help someone, and it felt really good in the end,” said freshman Alex Treakle.
Treakle recalled Cillian trying his new car for the first time: “The joy on his face really made my entire year.”
Thanks to the new car, Cillian has more mobility and freedom than ever before. He’s able to explore and learn new things.
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.”
Everyone has the power to make a difference in someone’s life, no matter how old or young. It all begins with trying to see the good we are all capable of, and applying that to help those who need it.