Jennifer Tucker spent much of her time at last week’s National Down Syndrome Congress Annual Convention in Orlando showcasing and leading efforts to enhance mobility in children with disabilities.
But the physical therapy lecturer took a break Saturday night to accept a President’s Award from the NDSC for her work on UCF Go Baby Go!, a mobility initiative she founded last year in the College of Health and Public Affairs.
Tucker received the award from NDSC President Marilyn Tolbert in recognition of UCF Go Baby Go!’s efforts to improve “the lives of individuals with Down syndrome through research and community outreach.”
For more than a year Tucker has partnered with Professor Cole Galloway, the nationally recognized founder of Go Baby Go! at the University of Delaware, to establish a Go Baby Go! program at UCF. She’s worked tirelessly with UCF colleagues to hold Go Baby Go! workshops where physical therapy students and staff members join families and community members to retrofit motorized toy cars for children in need of enhanced mobility. Earlier this year she helped launch Knights on the Go Café at UCF as the first site in Florida to demonstrate the Go Baby Go! harness system for adults recovering from a traumatic brain injury.
At the NDSC convention Tucker and Galloway presented a workshop on the influence of mobility in the development of infants and young children. They also demonstrated a Go Baby Go! motorized toy car and the harness system. The next day Tucker led a team of physical therapy students and an engineering student from UCF as they conducted a workshop for siblings of children with Down syndrome.
“The team managed about 40 siblings who helped retrofit three toy cars that were auctioned off that evening,” said Patrick Pabian, director of UCF’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and a workshop participant. “It was a great way to educate the siblings about the need for mobility.”
Both Tucker and Pabian said there was a great deal of interest in Go Baby Go! among convention goers, which numbered in the thousands. They’ve also seen great interest among local community members.
Tucker said she was honored and humbled to accept the President’s Award on behalf of UCF Go Baby Go! from the NDSC, which consists of the “families and children we serve.” She’s also said she’s thankful to the university, college and program’s leadership and administration for their continued support and encouragement.
“Together we can continue to create opportunities for fun and mobility for children with mobility impairments,” she said.
Among the other 2016 NDSC award recipients is Florida Sen. Andy Gardiner, who received the Exceptional Meritorious Service Award for his efforts to improve “the lives of individuals with disabilities in Florida.”