Student robotics team designs physical therapy cars for toddlers with cerebral disorders
By Nicole Borgenicht
The award-winning X-Bots Robotics Inc. partnered with PPG Foundation and the Boys & Girls Club for a pilot expansion special of its X-Bots Robotics Mobility Program on September 11 across six BGC sites in California.
The X-Bots Robotics Mobility Program is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) program that partners students in a robotics team with a BGC.
Together they build specially designed physical therapy cars for toddlers with cerebral disorders.
Elisa Avila, executive director of X-Bots Robotics, has run the program and outreach for more than six years.
X-Bots Robotics leadership STEM high school program encourages science and math-based learning and workshops for community service.
“This workshop serves to teach STEM education to students in underserved communities and provides service leadership skills to the students at the Boys & Girls Clubs we serve,” Avila said.
The pilot expansion launched at the following BGC sites in California: the BGC of Whittier | Pico Rivera, BGC of Cathedral City, BGC of Fontana, BGC of Malibu, BGC of Santa Monica, and Santa Clarita Valley B&GC.
“For our teens to learn such practical, purposeful STEM skills that result in a product that has such an immense impact in a young person’s life is a rare combination that builds a powerful sense of pride in what they can accomplish when they give back,” said Ian Keiller, chief operations officer of the Santa Monica Boys & Girls Club.
X-Bots Robotics’ outreach is coordinated with physical and operational therapy organizations and clinics to choose recipients.
The cerebral and Down syndrome organizations, as well as children’s hospitals, help designate the toddler and family who are to receive the gift.
This program has completed over 50 car modifications with 60 more planned during the recent event on September 11.
X-Bots Robotics and BGC are grateful for the PPG Foundation donations, which allow them to equip workshops with tools and meals to run smoothly in modifying the free cars for recipients.
Safety procedures are taken to secure the robotic cars.
“We have implemented a series of safety and training videos along with a quality assurance checklist at every step of the build that is inspected via Zoom and onsite by a trained GoBabyGo supervisor,” Avila said.
“Cole Galloway is the founder of the Go Baby Go program, which helps children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities move and explore the world. He is a professor of physical therapy and psychological and brain sciences at the University of Delaware.”
One of Avila’s favorite parts of the job is motivating teens to surpass their expectation and improve the lifestyle of toddlers with disabilities.
The program continues to inspire students in STEM education through their high school courses, as well as university students whose majors were influenced by the program.