Since Spring of 2017, Char-Em ISD Early Childhood staff have partnered with the Petoskey Robotics team, the Paladins, to create customized, motorized vehicles for young children with mobility challenges. This year’s build took place on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, at Petoskey High School and involved creating a new car for a growing boy!
Martin “Mart” Korte is a 4-year-old boy from Pellston who attends the Patricia A. Taylor School for Exceptional Learners in Petoskey. He first received custom wheels last year through GoBabyGo! As he continues to grow, the ISD and Robotics team have committed to helping him sustain his mobility.
Mart’s physical challenges are due to a genetic condition known as CDKL5, resulting in visual and neurological impairments.
“This is our fourth vehicle built with the Petoskey Paladins, and the work sessions are running very smoothly,” said Nicole Lindwall, Char-Em ISD Early On Coordinator. Lindwall and her son, Jack, a Petoskey Middle School 7th grader and Robotics team member, gathered with a group of middle and high students and adults giving their time on Sunday morning. “It is a joy to work with students who are so excited about helping a local child gain his mobility and all that it brings with it: Socializing, freedom and fun!” Lindwall added.
Present for Sunday’s build were Mart and his parents, Kasi and Martin Fyke, and grandma Michele; Char-Em ISD staff Lindwall, Stacey Elcoate, Becky Carpenter and Erin Humphreys; and Robotics students Luke Rokop, Jack Lindwall, Colin Colberg, Isaac Horvath, Marlee Tache and Paige Smith. Volunteers and mentors present were Bear River Electric electricians Jason Kromm, Eric Fitzgerald his daughter, Mijraix.
Past builds within Char-Em ISD have also involved the Central Lakes Robotics team, Trobotics. In January of this year, Central Lake child Jeremiah Nelson and his family were invited by Gov. Rick Snyder to the Capitol building for the State of the State address. Jeremiah rode his customized vehicle down the floor of the Capitol to resounding applause, as Snyder lauded the efforts of the Robotics students and Char-Em ISD working together to help a fellow youngster via robotics education.
GoBabyGo! is a national program that was started by the University of Delaware. To learn more, visit Char-Em ISD’s GoBabyGo! page. It was first brought to the attention by Char-Em ISD Occupational Therapist Mary Johnson, who learned about it at a national conference and believed it would add to the quality of life for local children with mobility challenges.