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UNF wins $85,000 federal grant to create toy cars for disabled kids
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UNF wins $85,000 federal grant to create toy cars for disabled kids

UNF wins $85,000 federal grant to create toy cars for disabled kids
Photo Credit: University of North Florida

UNF wins $85,000 federal grant to create toy cars for disabled kids

It's for the neediest of kids and the University of North Florida will use your tax dollars to make it happen.

The university recently won an over $85,000 grant from the National Institute of Health for its Adaptive Toy Project, one that's been at UNF since the fall of 2014.

Mechanical and electrical engineering students work with physical therapy students as part of an elective class that will create toy cars for disabled children.

The money will help pay for those toys so that their parents don't have to, according to UNF electrical engineering professor Dr. Juan Aceros.

"This is not just an experiment in the lab that never gets out of the lab," Aceros noted. "This is actually going to somebody's family, to a kid."

Those battery-powered cars are custom-built for each child based on their needs and under the eye of Aceros as well as professors in UNF's physical therapy department.

Those kids suffer from cerebral palsy and a variety of genetic conditions. Some are visually impaired and others have to use their hands instead of their feet to move the vehicles.

Each child - all of whom are locals or treated locally at various health facilities - will be formally assessed before the students build the car to that child's needs.

The one thing most of the kids have in common is that their families can't really afford toys like this that would help them cope with their diseases.

That's why Aceros says winning this kind of highly competitive federal grant really makes a difference, especially considering that UNF doesn't have its own teaching hospital.

"Engineering students see a lot of math, a lot of lab work," Aceros stated. "They don't see that human aspect of how they can employ their abilities to make somebody else's life better."

Aceros also noted that other universities have reached out to him as part of their efforts to recreate a similar program at their schools.

"We are pioneers in this," Aceros stated.

The next fall class already has 28 students registered and they'll be building cars for 10 kids.

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