- Associated Press - Monday, May 23, 2016

TORRINGTON, Conn. (AP) - Students from Oliver Wolcott Technical High School in Torrington spent time last week transforming childhood playthings, through their efforts and talent, into something vital for local young children in need.

As a part of the Go Baby Go! program, along with students from Central Connecticut State University, OWT students and administrators modified toy electric cars, to be used to provide mobility for 18-month to four-year-old children. There are few commercial wheelchair options for such young children.

“I think that this experience provides for (OWT students), when they graduate, really, they want to give back to the community, and volunteer in any organizations that really hit their heart, and mean something to them,” said Dr. Tanya Celadon, assistant principal at OWT. “And realizing that their trade, their craft, is so important to these youngsters.”

Students from the Carpentry, CADD, Electronics, Graphics, HVAC and Manufacturing disciplines took part in the effort, according to Celadon.

“We’re giving back to the community. (The students are) gaining that social experience, that working together,” said Assistant Principal Jeff Dudek. “And they’re also working in their trade and craft, and seeing hands-on, practical, how it can work in the real world as they get older and graduate.”

OWT students worked on the cars throughout the day- preventing them from traveling in reverse, adding a roll cage to prevent them from tipping over, and adding seating supports, according to Taylor Wheeler, a senior at OWT.

“It’s very important to teach children to contribute in life, and I think everyone needs to contribute something,” said Wheeler. “To be able to be part of a project like this, and help someone who needs help, means a lot- it teaches a lot of lessons to students that are here today.”

The effort was based on a program created by the University of Delaware, which CCSU has emulated in recent years.

Megan Hislop, an OWT alumnus and soon-to-be CCSU graduate, helped bring the Go Baby Go! program to Oliver Wolcott.

“My professor found the story on the University of Delaware, and her and my other professor… took a lovely trip down to to Delaware,” said Hislop. “And they proposed it to me Fall of 2014. And I was just like ‘When can we start?’ I just want to do this, no questions asked. It’s going to happen. And here we are at our tenth workshop.”

After the OWT event, CCSU will have helped build 56 cars for young children in need.

The effort also provides experience for students at the college- many of the students at the event Thursday, according to CCSU Professor James DeLaura, will likely become STEM teachers in the future.

This was the first such event at Oliver Wolcott. Celadon and Dudek said they planned to bring it back next year.

The cars were presented to local children and families, according to Celadon.

“(It) pulls at your heartstrings,” Celadon said.


Information from: The Register Citizen, https://www.registercitizen.com

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