Go Baby Go! Comes to LCPS

Go Baby Go! Comes to LCPS
Posted on 06/20/2019

It’s no secret that in many households, five-year-old boys can be difficult to keep up with. But one Louisa boy will be especially hard to catch thanks to a collaborative display of kindness by Louisa County Public Schools and a local congregation.

Students and staff members with Louisa County Public Schools’ Career and Technical Education program awarded their first-ever Go Baby Go cart to five-year-old Brandon Bristow on Tuesday, June 11th. Go Baby Go is a program that helps school divisions and other groups provide modified, ride-on cars to young children with disabilities so they can move around independently.

Brandon, who has a dual diagnosis of Down Syndrome and Autism, wasted no time enjoying his ride on Tuesday. After a quick check of his seat belt, he was off to take several laps around the hallways at Louisa County High School while his parents, school division staff members, students, and local community leaders looked on with pride and a few misty eyes!

“We are beyond excited, just through the roof,” said Shannon Bristow, Brandon’s mom. “Words can’t express how we feel. This is a parent’s dream. I think this cart will help him with tantrums and it’ll help his mood a lot as well.”

Brandon’s new cart has more than enough gadgets to keep him entertained. It features padded seats, a custom harness made from a car seat, and a gas pedal attached to the steering wheel for ease of access. CTE students and staff members also threw in a few more high-end customizations as well, including headlights and a Bluetooth radio system. Should Brandon feel more inclined to ride instead of drive, he’s also in luck, because the cart even includes a remote control that his parents can use to power and steer the entire machine!

“This cart wasn’t part of a kit that came out of a box this way,” LCPS CTE Coordinator Kenny Bouwens said. “There was a lot of critical thinking, a lot of creativity, and a lot of collaboration that went into this project.” 

It was Bouwens who was the first person at LCPS to become familiar with the Go Baby Go program, and the project holds a special place in his heart. Bouwens’ daughter has Cerebral palsy, so back in April, he arranged for her to receive a cart of her own. After seeing the amount of joy the cart brought to his daughter, Bouwens decided the introduce the program at Louisa County Public Schools.

“It really touched my heart, so I wanted to pay that experience forward to another family,” Bouwens said.

Brandon’s tricked-out cart was the result of a team effort. A local church, Thessalonia Baptist Church, volunteered to cover the costs of the program, which averages about $200 a cart. Then, LCPS CTE staff members and students spent about three weeks making the necessary modifications, with many of the group working through part of their summer break to make the magic happen.

As Brandon took his first few laps in the cart, the effort certainly seemed worth it.

“I’m really happy to see how he reacted,” Louisa County High School sophomore Jacob Bundrick said. “It really feels good to see that the work we do can help make children happy and have such a big impact on their life. It really feels good to help out in that way.”

“Children like Brandon, they have dreams, they have desires, they have emotions, they have all of the things we have,” added Thessalonia Baptist Church pastor Henry Truzy, who also works as a custodian for Louisa County Public Schools.

Along with helping increase Brandon’s mobility, Go Baby Go carts are also linked to helping young children with disabilities improve their cognitive, social, motor, and language skills. Shannon Bristow said Brandon, who attends Thomas Jefferson Elementary School in Louisa County, has continuously benefited in many ways from the positive atmosphere at Louisa County Public Schools.

“We’ve always had a large support system, and today just magnified that,” Bristow said.

As Brandon looked over his new cart after the big reveal, Bouwens sneaked over to Bristow to hand her one final bonus memento: a custom driver’s license created just for Brandon.

“We’re big about kindness here at Louisa County Public Schools,” said Bouwens.

For video highlights, click here!

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