St. Joseph Academy Students Help Local Kids, Families Through Service Project

St. Joseph Academy Students Help Local Kids, Families Through Service Project

Photos by Angela Gartner

Tracey Stafford, of Willoughby, watches her 3-year-old son, Andrew, as he takes the wheel of his new adapted PowerWheels convertible toy car at the Saint Joseph Academy gymnasium.

For Andrew, who had a traumatic brain injury as an infant, this experience provides him an opportunity to be in control of his mobility.

Saint Joseph Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cleveland, provides students interested in engineering and technology with an opportunity to work on a project with Go Baby Go. The nonprofit research program helps children with disabilities obtain a temporary wheelchair alternative.

Madalynn Wendland, associate clinical professor and doctor of the physical therapy program at Cleveland State University, works with students to reconfigure vehicles for children with special needs who need to build up their core muscles during their physical therapy. The student group rewires and builds a support structure to keep the child safe per the specifications.

Andrew tests out his new wheels.

Wendland says this low cost option is completely modified and customized to fit the needs of the child. 

Reagan Bushok, a senior at Saint Joseph Academy, has taken part in the program since her sophomore year and plans to study engineering in college.

She loves the hands-on learning of the program, but also the opportunity it brings to students who have a love of service.

Sara Bauer, a junior at Saint Joseph Academy, who also works on the car reconfigurations, says it’s cool to see the giveaway, when the child and parents finally get to test out their car.

She likes to see how grateful the families are and know the impact these cars will have on the families’ lives.

For Stafford, this allows Andrew to experience something that every kid does.

“It’s amazing,” she said after seeing him riding in his own red toy convertible.

About the author

Angela Gartner is the editor at Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine. She previously served as editor for family and general interest magazines in the region. As a journalist, her articles and columns have appeared in newspapers and other publications including The News-Herald, Sun Newspapers as well as the Chicago Tribune. She grew up in Northeast Ohio and is a mom of two boys. The whole family is busy each weekend with sports and finding new happenings around the region. She loves reading books, being a board member at the Cleveland Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and taking the family dog, a Scottish Terrier named Jagger, on his walks.

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