George Tillett has been a volunteer at TAD for five years. The best thing about volunteering at TAD is, “the combination of being able to help others, seeing the kids get excited and using my skills and background to do that,” he said.
Recently George has been modifying electronically motorised cars for young children with disability. He has made many, including one for a little boy, also named George.
Two year old George lives with a unique neuromuscular condition which means he has weakness in his muscles and difficulty self-mobilising. Little George uses a walker to move about the house but he cannot use it on the grass outside and he craves more freedom.
George’s mum Nadia says, “George loves his new wheels!”
Occupational Therapist Helena Young from Children’s Hospital Westmead said, “the car provides my young clients with independent mobility and fun. The children learn how to use a joystick control, this is helpful for future independence in using a powered wheelchair. George has taken the initiative to source inexpensive but effective technical solutions to make the electric cars useable for young children with physical disabilities.”
Like many of TAD’s volunteers, George Tillett has many technical skills which he uses when customising the cars to meet the individual needs of each child.
Standard children’s cars, “often take off quickly and come to an abrupt stop which creates a jerking motion and is a bit harsh on the kids,” George said. To avoid this he installs custom electronics, controlled by a joy stick and Arduino computer chip. George has written his own program in C++ coding to ensure the car starts, stops and manoeuvres safely.
His design also has adjustable speed ranges which can be easily set by adult supervisors and the cars now take off slowly. The steering controls have been moved from the steering wheel to the joystick so children who have limited hand movement.
For more information about the ride on cars visit tad.org.au/adaptable-solutions.