Children with disabilities get early Christmas gifts from UNF's one-of-a-kind program

by: Michael Yoshida, Action News Jax Updated:

A university program delivered special gifts to children with disabilities on Friday.

For 4-year-old Scarlett and her family, Christmas came early -- a hot new ride for the girl who loves the color pink. Her toy car was designed to fit her just right.

"This is amazing," Scarlett's mom Dezaraye Wilgis said. 

Scarlett lives with a disability that impacts her motor skills and vision. She's legally blind, but can see some things, so her car is designed to follow a tape line.

“(The) purpose of this car is to kind of help give her some independence,” physical therapy student Garrett Baumann said.

All Scarlett has to do is push a button and off she goes. Her car also has a remote so it can be used outside, something her family said is great because she loves the outdoors.

"It's magical," Wilgis said. "I'm trying not to cry. It's awesome!”

Scarlett's car also has a remote so it can be used outside, something her family said is great because she loves the outdoors.

The University of North Florida's Adaptive Toy Program gave eight students special toys designed to help them as they develop and grow.

The toys are part of a highly specialized program that has gotten a lot of national attention.

UNF is the only school in the country with an adaptive toy program.

Families are referred to take part in the semester program. Then physical therapy and engineering students meet with the families and design the toys to meet each individual child's needs.

Dr. Mary Lundy, a professor in the UNF Physical Therapy Program, said movement through space and exploration of their environment can improve children's vision.

Learn more about the UNF Adaptive Toy Program by visiting the program webpage.

Next Up: