CORAL GABLES — A Miami 3-year-old boy with health challenges was given independence thanks to a special gift from "Santa's helpers."
Connor doesn't get to play like other kids his age because of health-related limitations that make it difficult for him to sit up without assistance. So, students and faculty at the Miami campus of the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) gifted him the freedom to move around unassisted with a modified toy Jeep.
The aspiring physical therapists and occupational therapists modified Connor's Jeep and other toys to meet their patients' unique and individual needs. In addition to the ride-along toys, students have also modified "press and play" activity boards for younger children. All of this is made possible thanks to the national Go Baby Go initiative, and USAHS's effort is the only one in South Florida.
On Saturday morning, students presented the toy Jeep to Connor and his parents, where he drove freely with glee.
Rosie DeFeo, an assistant professor in the DPT program and a RESNA Assistive Technology Professional, says students learn to appreciate their role in helping patients interact with their world and explore ways to integrate technology in their practice. The kids' smiles are an added perk.
Families are referred to USAHS by local providers and the toys are provided free of charge thanks to corporate and private donations.
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