Hargrove Engineers + Constructors will unveil their first adaptive toy as part of the HAT (Hargrove Adaptive Toy) Project on Thursday, October 20th in the Hargrove Courtyard. The initiative is dedicated to filling the gap for adaptive toys among mobility limited children, like the first recipient, who has cerebral palsy.
Last December, Hargrove Instrumentation Engineer, Michelle Jones, P.E., met Stefanie Pablo during a field trip with her son who shared about her daughter, Emma’s, special mobility needs. From that moment forward, Michelle became dedicated to using her engineering expertise to assist children with special mobility requirements. On Thursday evening, the first adaptive toy “EMMA” (Engineered Machine for Mobility and Access), named in honor of our first recipient Emma Pablo, will be unveiled to the 11-year-old girl and her family.
“After hearing Emma’s story, I knew there had to be a way we could help,” said Jones. “I contacted our President and CEO Ralph Hargrove that afternoon. His response was immediate and supportive. The goal was to build something that would enrich Emma’s life and provide her access to the tools she needed to learn to move around in space and control her environment. I began to reach out to fellow engineers and designers whom I knew would share in this vision. We worked to modify an off-the-shelf toy car…and once we saw the look on her face during a sit test, we knew it was worth it.”
Many mobility limited children do no not qualify for an insurance-provided electric wheelchair as they must prove their ability to independently control the chair before they can receive aid. These adaptive toy EMMAs will provide a convenient, accessible pathway for development of the necessary skills to meet the insurance requirements. Studies have shown that the ability to control one’s movement through space has a direct impact on social, cognitive and speech skills. Therefore, providing mobility limited children with access to these adaptive toy EMMAs has the potential for additional life changing impacts. Each EMMA can be customized with headswitches, joysticks and push buttons to accommodate individual needs.
Future recipients of single-function EMMAs will be randomly selected. As of January 1, 2017, physical therapists will have the ability submit applications for potential users.
Thursday’s event also includes a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the launch of harGIVES (Hargrove Innovative Volunteer Engineering Services), a new volunteer organization that provides the means and opportunity to give back to the community utilizing Hargrove Teammates’ engineering and technical expertise.
harGIVES was founded so that the Teammates’ desire to give back would not remain unrealized due to lack of resources. Launching the harGIVES organization as a 501(c)3 has allowed the company’s passion for volunteerism to take on a variety of creative, hands-on projects. The Hargrove Foundation exists as a means to financially support charitable causes, while harGIVES enables Hargrove Teammates to engage in specific projects as a volunteer organization with the ability to provide goods and services.
Through the use of volunteers, harGIVES hopes to produce 10 individualized single-function cars per year. harGIVES has also partnered with the University of South Alabama’s Capstone Engineering Program to produce multi-functional EMMAs for donation to places which serve mobility limited children including schools, camps and physical therapy offices.