The Oregonian: Portland State raising money to build custom cars for children disabled by Zika virus
Author: Andrew Theen, The Oregonian
Posted: August 2, 2016

Read the original story in The Oregonian. 

Go Baby Go Oregon

Portland State students are raising money to help disabled children in Brazil. The students hope to build toy cars like this one that help disabled kids move around. (Courtesy of PSU)

Portland State students hope to ship modified toy cars to Brazil to help disabled children affected by the Zika virus.

Graduate students in a PSU special education class are raising money this month to build specially modified toy cars designed to help children with Microcephaly in Brazil. The birth defect is being linked to the mosquito-borne Zika virus in South America.

The PSU effort comes as the Summer Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro later this month.

According to a press release, PSU students learned how to adapt the cars for children at an event in June hosted by an Oregon Health & Science University physical therapist. The "Go Baby Go" movement began in Delaware, where vehicles were altered to help children with disabilities, and has since expanded to Oregon and other states. The state's program is housed in Corvallis at Oregon State University, where it began in 2014.

The toy cars cost roughly $200 to assemble, significantly less expensive than motorized wheelchairs or other devices that can cost thousands of dollars. Children as young as six months can fit in the vehicles.

Sam Sennott, the PSU professor and director of the school's Universal Design Lab in the Graduate School of Education, said the Brazilian children face a challenging disability. "But let's look at what's possible and what else they can do through therapy," he said in a statement. The vehicles, "let kids be kids," he said.

Hannah Wilson, a PSU student with family in Brazil, is helping the school raise money. In a statement, Wilson said it's cheaper to modify the cars in the United States, and that electronics are more expensive in Brazil, making it a huge barrier for families.

A PSU spokeswoman said the school hadn't shipped any car to Brazil yet, but had made connections in the country.

Here's a link to the PSU fundraising campaign. As of Tuesday, the class had raised $440.

-- Andrew Theen