Lexus, Axalta Craft ‘Ride-on’ Toys for Kids with CP and Limited Mobility

Lexus, Axalta Craft ‘Ride-on’ Toys for Kids with CP and Limited Mobility

Lexus and and Axalta are different companies with a common goal: producing “toy” vehicles that help children with cognitive or physical challenges be more  mobility while having fun.

Lexus, the automaker, partnered with the Cerebral Palsy Foundation (CPF) to create a unique ride-on car for a young cerebral palsy (CP) patient. Ride-on is a toy category aimed at girls and boys that includes cars, trucks and other vehicles.

“People with cerebral palsy rarely get the interventions and support they need at the moments they need them,” said Rachel Byrne, CPF executive director, in a press release. “Our mission is to shift that paradigm and be a catalyst for creating positive change through innovative collaborations and partnerships.”

A group of neurological disorders that appear in infancy or early childhood, cerebral palsy affects body movement and muscle coordination. While symptoms vary in type and severity, all have difficulty with movement and posture. Children with CP show delays in reaching motor development milestones. Some may have tremors or random involuntary movements, while others may have seizures, intellectual disability, and impaired vision or hearing.

Children with cerebral palsy often find it challenging to be able to participate in their environment and to simply, well, play.

“We create vehicles around the art and science of human needs,” said Cooper Ericksen, Lexus group vice president, product planning and strategy. “In this case, we wanted to push the envelope and explore what that might mean for a child with cerebral palsy who hasn’t been able to experience the joy of mobility like other children have.”

Lexus and the Foundation worked together to pinpoint specific mobility challenges faced by young CP patients, and Finley Smallwood in particular. Smallwood received her bespoke ride-on vehicle this month, as March is Cerebral Palsy Awareness Month. It’s purple, her favorite color.

Because it can be challenging for Smallwood to sit for extended periods, Lexus added side padding to the seat for lateral support, plus an adjustable headrest and five-point harness. For ease of entry and exit, the customized ride also includes a large door and lower ground clearance.

Many children with CP lack the strength to handle a steering wheel, and mobility issues can using a foot pedal uncertain. An armrest joystick was installed to give Smallwood the ability to more easily control and propel the vehicle.

“While these modifications will impact the life of one special child, it’s also a step in opening a door for exploring the vast possibilities of human-centric design,” Ericksen added.

Go here for more information on the Lexus/CPF project.

Similarly, global coatings provider Axalta collaborated with GoBabyGo!, Nutech Wood Finishes, RepcoLite, and Herman Miller to craft custom ride-on vehicles for youngsters in the Zeeland, Michigan, area.

The companies recently modified toy cars for four toddlers with mobility issues. The cars address each child’s specific needs, and promote independent mobility.

“Mobility is so much part of our business, as our paint is used on some of the most high-performing vehicles in the world,” Carl Gaynor, Axalta marketing director, said in a press release. “Seeing how mobility has such a positive effect on these children was truly an inspiration.

“We are very happy to help kids in our community to be more independent and mobile, keeping up with their friends, and reaching places they weren’t able to reach before,” Gaynor said.

To make certain the vehicles were optimally customized, the companies met with child and his or her family. Instead of foot pedals, all the cars were fitted with a drive button. Each vehicle was also decorated to match each child’s personality.

The project was through Axalta’s Bright Futures program which, as part of the company’s social responsibility initiatives, partners with companies that promote science, technology, engineering, and math.

GoBabyGo! started as a University of Delaware project to give children with cerebral palsy and other mobility disabilities the chance to socialize and get around with their friends and siblings. It has been adopted by schools and service groups worldwide.