It was special moment for two families as their children with special needs received motorized carts to help them get around.
It was life-changing for Kechisa Mathis to see her daughter Kelicia move around for the first time in the cart, which is made to look like a car.
“It was a victory and a milestone for her. It gave her no limitations as to what she can do,” Mathis told InsideEdition.com. “Words can’t express the joy I felt in my heart.”
The gift was given through the Connecticut chapter of “Go Baby Go,” a national organization that promotes independent mobility for kids with special needs. The organization, which is funded by donations, has volunteers who build the carts for free.
STEM students from New Britain High School and technology students from Central Connecticut State University worked together for nearly two months to build the cars for Kelicia, 7, and an 8-year-old boy named Moses.
The cart has a button the children can press to make them go forward and their parents can help steer. They can operate the carts for one to two hours a day, which helps increase their independence.
Kelicia was born with Trisomy 18, a syndrome that causes developmental delays due to having an extra chromosome 18. Doctors said she wouldn’t live past a few months, but her mom said she has beaten the odds.
Mathis said seeing her in the cart is another one of Kelicia's accomplishments.
“She’s been driving it here at home,” Mathis said. “She loves driving her car. She is getting used to pushing the button on her own. She is not steering it on her own but she’s getting there.”
And for the students who spend months building the vehicles, it’s just as rewarding. Heavyhn Kimber, a high school student, said it was a surreal moment.
“I didn’t realize how important it was for the parents that their children can actually be in cars and be mobile. It was a pretty emotional experience for me,” Kimber told InsideEdition.com.
College student Connor Boman, 24, said that while the carts don’t replace the role of electric wheelchairs, they still provide something essential for many kids with special needs.
“Think of them as locomotive therapy, where the child gets to explore their own world for an hour or two every day, expand their horizons, expand that mental stimulation that’s actually lacking for so many of these kids who can’t move on their own,” Boman said.