Local Boys & Girls Club youth help build physical therapy cars for toddlers with mobility challenges

Teens from the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu participated in a training seminar at the Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) National Keystone Conference on July 24 in Anaheim, assembling 20 specially designed physical therapy cars for toddlers with cerebral disorders.

In partnership with X-Bots Robotics Inc., the unique STEM program called GoBabyGo!, helps toddlers with cerebral disorders affecting body mobility challenges and their families in the SoCal area. Together, X-Bots Robotics and Boys & Girls Club provided an opportunity for hands-on STEM learning by facilitating youth participants to put their skills to work to serve families with toddlers who have mobility challenges.

X-Bots Robotics Inc., trained 100 club youth leaders, including teens from the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, on its X-Bots Robotics Mobility Program.

X-Bots Robotics Inc. Executive Director Elisa Avila said they are launching a nationwide expansion of the X-Bots Robotics Mobility Program across Boys & Girls Club sites to bring STEM programming to youth to explore these disciplines.

“We’re glad that together with Boys & Girls Club, we can offer this hands-on technical engineering programming that not only develops students’ leadership skills and inspires them to pursue a career in STEM, but also serves their communities,” Avila said.

The training prepares the youth leaders to become peer mentors by providing STEM educational and leadership opportunities for middle school and high school students. They apply practical solutions, peer-to-peer learning, skills sharing and immersive lessons in engineering, all while bringing joy to children and their parents.

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Boys & Girls Club of Malibu Teen Center Director Violet Way said the BGCM started their partnership with GoBabyGo! in 2021 and are proud of all the work the teens have done.

The Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) trained 100 Club youth leaders, including teens from the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, on its X-Bots Robotics Mobility Program during the National Keystone Conference on July 24 in Anaheim. Photos by Gemma Stewart (Rocket Launch).

“This program helps youth learn not only STEM skills, but also the value of empathy and the importance of making a positive impact in someone’s life,” Way said. “For this event, our teens were more than willing to wake up at 5:30 a.m. to dedicate their entire Sunday to service — they have fallen in love with this program and always ask to be included when there is an event.”

BGCM teen member and 10th-grader Irina Columbeanu expressed her appreciation for the organization and the training seminar. 

“Every time I participate in the event, I leave filled with delight for being part of such an inspiring movement that changes children’s lives for the better,” Columbeanu said. “I am also rewarded with new pieces of wisdom and knowledge that I would not learn otherwise.”

Columbeanu said during Sunday’s event she was able to remind herself how crucial teamwork is, especially when it comes to being effective in bettering the world one step at a time. Every car assembled was the work of at least seven ambitious students working together to productively engineer an improved future for disabled kids.

“In about two to three hours, dozens of cars were built, and only because we all joined our determination and skills, leaving our egos behind,” Columbeanu said. 

Columbeanu is interested in a career in STEM, and said the program helps further fuel her dream. 

“I wish to become a cardiothoracic or neurosurgeon, and in order to achieve that, I am always looking for new STEM opportunities to increase my knowledge of the field, and hopefully, use it to save lives one day,” Columbeanu continued. “I was pretending that the car we were building was my patient, and with each step we completed, I imagined that we were one step closer to saving a life, which we were doing in both reality and in my fictional surgery.”

This year, Boys & Girls Club of Malibu also created a makerspace on the Malibu High School (MHS) campus. The makerspace consists of 3-D printers, laser engravers, fabric printers, materials for film production, and several different learning opportunities with high-tech and low-tech materials. The makerspace has been utilized by several classes at MHS, and school faculty and club staff are blown away with what the students have created. Boys & Girls Club of Malibu has also hosted weekly makerspace sessions over the summer. 

“We are excited to provide students in our community with the opportunity to explore, create and engage in STEM programming through Boys & Girls Club programs like GoBabyGo! and the makerspace,” added Way.

The Boys & Girls Club of America (BGCA) trained 100 Club youth leaders, including teens from the Boys & Girls Club of Malibu, on its X-Bots Robotics Mobility Program during the National Keystone Conference on July 24 in Anaheim. Photos by Gemma Stewart (Rocket Launch).
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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