Building Strong Foundations: The Impact of Exercise on Bone Health in Children with Physical Disabilities

The Impact of Exercise on Bone Health in Children with Physical Disabilities

It doesn’t take an expert to know the benefits of regular exercise on children’s health and well-being. For children with physical disabilities, however, the impact of regular physical activity goes beyond the immediate benefits—it extends to the very foundation of their skeletal health. Physical exercise and bone strength are intimately connected in children facing physical challenges due to a wide range of medical conditions and physical traits. In children with physical disabilities, factors such as limited mobility, muscle weakness, or altered biomechanics can affect bone development, potentially leading to complications like osteoporosis.

The Link between Exercise and Bone Density

Research published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, the Journal of Pediatric Rehabilitation Medicine, Nutrients, and other medical publications consistently highlight the positive correlation between exercise and bone density. Engaging in weight-bearing and muscle-resistance activities, where bones bear the load of all or part of the body, stimulates the bone-forming cells, enhancing mineralization and density. For children with physical disabilities, adapted exercises that accommodate their unique needs can play a pivotal role in building and maintaining robust bones and muscle strength.

Types of Beneficial Exercises

  1. Weight-bearing activities (where the bones support the body’s weight) such as walking, jogging, or dancing. These activities stimulate bone cells, contributing to improved bone density.
  2. Strength training such as lifting weights or using resistance to strengthen muscles. Stronger muscles build bone health and provide additional support to the skeleton, reducing the risk of fractures.
  3. Adapted physical activities (i.e., tailored exercises to accommodate specific physical disabilities). Customized activities ensure that all children, regardless of their abilities, can participate and enjoy the benefits of exercise.

Potential Challenges and Solutions

Limited accessibility to fitness facilities, a lack of specialized equipment, and the need for individualized programs can all pose barriers. However, solutions like inclusive physical education programs, accessible playgrounds, and adaptive sports leagues are examples of stepping stones toward overcoming these challenges.

The Role of Healthcare Professionals

Medical experts, including physiotherapists, orthopedic specialists, and adapted physical education teachers, play a vital role in guiding children with physical disabilities on suitable exercise regimens and providing resources for them. Collaborative efforts between healthcare professionals, educators, and parents can create a supportive environment that nurtures the skeletal health and overall physical health of these children.

In the journey to ensure the well-being of children with physical disabilities, exercise emerges as a potent ally in fortifying their skeletal foundations. The evidence from peer-reviewed medical studies and anecdotal evidence underscores the transformative potential of adapted, inclusive physical activities supporting bone health. By embracing the power of exercise, we not only enhance bone health but also empower these resilient young individuals to lead active and fulfilling lives.

February 1, 2024

Ten days before Christmas, an anonymous donor tasked our foundation with a special request: “Please find a deserving family who could use a Pumper Car® unit and deliver it by Christmas.”

Our elves immediately went to work and contacted the physical therapists at OHSU/Doernbecher Child Development and Rehabilitation Center for a recommendation. Within hours, the therapists contacted us with an ideal match: the Quigley family, which includes five children with autism. Each child receives some type of therapy at the Center or elsewhere. For the past five years, several of the children have used a Pumper Car device during therapy—and they absolutely love it.

Their mother, Kari, was thrilled to receive a Pumper Car Uniflex™ model that has an adjustable seat. This will allow the four younger children, her teenage son, and even Kari herself to ride it.

“Now that everyone is in school and thriving,” Kari said, “it can be difficult to balance getting everyone to therapy. The Pumper Car will be a great addition to our routine at home to help carry over treatment from OHSU.”

She also said the ride-on device would provide numerous benefits for her family. “It’s a safe way to be able to move their bodies and to get out energy when they are feeling overstimulated,” Kari explained. “It will allow them to exercise outside in the yard, as well as inside the garage on rainy days. It provides them with a positive way to let out frustration instead of engaging in unsafe behaviors. The children will be able to build skills such as patience, sharing, and waiting. But most importantly, it’s a way to have fun as a family.”

The team at Mobility for Kids was very happy to fulfill our donor’s Christmas wish (three days early) and deliver this gift to a very special family. This is one Christmas gift that will be used daily throughout the year.

March 23, 2023

The Les Schwab Tire Centers in Washington County are dedicated to giving back to the community. Last fall they generously gave nine Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles to the Beaverton School District, and today they delighted students, staff, and parents with a dozen Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles to use throughout the Forest Grove School District.

Aaron Smithers, manager of the Walker Road store said, “We take pride in giving back to our local communities. School resources and budgets keep getting tighter and tighter, leaving gaps in physical education, especially for those with physical obstacles. Providing these Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles to our local schools helps bridge any budget gaps and will provide all kids with a great opportunity to have fun and keep active. We are honored to join forces with Mobility for Kids to provide these cars to the kids.”

Forest Grove School District superintendent David Parker and Adapted P.E. specialist Katie Waterstreet were on hand to receive the Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles. Ms. Waterstreet explained that she wanted the Pumper Cars for the Forest Grove students because they will be “another mode of exercise for all our students to access indoors and outdoors. The push/pull movement needed to use the Pumper Cars provides the [students with important] feedback their muscles need to regulate their movement and emotions.”

Students at Fern Hill Elementary were the first to try out this new form of exercise that will be incorporated into the district’s P.E. curriculum. They were obviously having so much fun that the adults who attended the presentation had to try them out as well. Everyone agreed that this is an enjoyable way to get a full-body workout.

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October 25, 2022

Today students in the Beaverton School District can start speeding around playgrounds and gyms driving nine Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles. This mini fleet was generously donated by the Les Schwab Tire Centers of Washington County during a special event at Scholls Heights Elementary School. Les Schwab is a perfect sponsor for our program that provides mobility for children because this community-minded company’s slogan is, “Keeping Your Life in Motion.”

Brian Geddes, manager in the Beaverton area, explained that their group of stores felt that making this donation was a wonderful opportunity. “One of the things about being with Les Schwab Tire Centers . . . we try to support our communities as much as possible.” When he was asked about giving exercise equipment that will be used by hundreds of students, he responded, “It’s always a great day when you’re helping kids. It puts a smile on my face and it’s honestly a great feeling to do it.”

The cars were presented to two staff members including, Celia Whitehead, P.E. specialist. She told those at the special event, “Beaverton School District students are lucky to receive this donation of Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles. They will provide all students opportunities for movement . . . especially with our special needs populations. Not all students get to experience the thrill of pedaling a bicycle. This is one way [they] can experience a similar physical activity.”

One fortunate young girl named Nicole was chosen to be the first one to test drive the new cars. Geddes commented, “We hope the students get lots of use out of these Pumper Cars for lots of years to come.” By the smile on Nicole’s face, their wish will certainly come true.

Mobility for Kids In The News

December 15, 2021

To ride around the neighborhood is the ultimate form of freedom for a kid. Unfortunately, many with special needs can’t ride a bicycle. Take Emerson Kohn for example. This 9-year-old middle child of three sons has issues with balance and muscle strength. He’s about the same height as his 6-year-old brother and is much less physically developed.

One thing Emerson can do is ride a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle. He goes to Shriners Hospital in Tampa, Florida, for weekly physical therapy sessions. These include him riding a Pumper Car through the hallways to work on building muscle and core strength. Emerson’s parents agreed with his therapist that the use of a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle at home would build on the work done at his therapy sessions. However, the Kohns’ budget couldn’t extend to include the cost.

A couple across the country stepped forward a few weeks ago and decided to anonymously pay for a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle to be delivered to Emerson’s home, just in time for Christmas. These “angels,” as Mike Kohn, Emerson’s dad, calls them, have made a major difference in his son’s life. He said that with the “Shriners’ Hospital slated to close down permanently at the end of June, for Emerson to have the Pumper Car for home therapy is critical and very appreciated.” His father further commented that this device provides not only fun for his child, but also independence. Now Emerson can be like his brothers and peers, enjoying the freedom of riding around the neighborhood.

Mobility for Kids

September 16, 2021

Star power. In our book, that’s what Shannon Nill and Guaranty Chevrolet have. And we have the lights and camera to prove it.

Today marked the third time this generous man and his company donated a mini-fleet of cars to Oregon school children. KEZI-TV was there to cover his delivery of four more Pumper Cars to the Eugene 4J School District.

Nill thanked the Eugene school district for partnering with Guaranty Chevrolet. “These cars give young people the opportunity to operate a vehicle, even if they can’t operate a trike, bike or skateboard.”

This brings the total of Guaranty Chevrolet’s gift to the Help Kids Drive to Success program to 19 cars. We look forward to working with Mr. Nill and other sponsors throughout the country to fulfill his wish, “to see more kids have a chance to enjoy the freedom of mobility.”


A couple across the country stepped forward a few weeks ago and decided to anonymously pay for a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle to be delivered to Emerson’s home, just in time for Christmas. These “angels,” as Mike Kohn, Emerson’s dad, calls them, have made a major difference in his son’s life. He said that with the “Shriners’ Hospital slated to close down permanently at the end of June, for Emerson to have the Pumper Car for home therapy is critical and very appreciated.” His father further commented that this device provides not only fun for his child, but also independence. Now Emerson can be like his brothers and peers, enjoying the freedom of riding around the neighborhood.

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June 11, 2021

Les Schwab’s company motto is, “Doing the right thing matters.” Its various stores strive to find ways that they can help and improve their communities at a local level. Their reasons aren’t necessarily to obtain publicity but simply because it’s the right thing to do.

The Les Schwab manager at Washington Square, Pablo Meza, believes that his company’s mission should involve doing something for local children with special needs. When he learned about the Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle he knew he’d found a unique way to help. He appreciated how the exercise device looks like a toy but actually provides a full-body workout for children of all abilities.

Today, the Beaverton School District gratefully received a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle generously donated by Meza and Les Schwab. Amy Wood, a K-2 teacher in the Independent Skill Center at William Walker Elementary School was thrilled with the donation. She commented that her classroom supports students who are severely affected “by their disabilities which include autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disabilities, vision and/or orthopedic impairments. Students in my classroom are multi-modal communicators. They use visual picture exchange, voice output devices, pointing and gestures, voice approximations, as well as vocal speech. We also have varying levels of mobility in our classroom.”

Before Covid-19 shut down schools last year, her class had the opportunity to test drive a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that a student who frequently is in “melt-down mode” happily waited his turn and was delighted to drive the Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle around the gym.

Wood feels that the “Pumper Car will give her students the chance to practice important skills like waiting and turn taking that will serve them in many facets of their lives.” Furthermore, she believes that this device will help her students “discover how things are connected and work. Some of my students will discover and master muscle control during movement. For others, it just allows them to engage with something fun to get their physical and sensory needs met while at school.”

Mesa said that Les Schwab was happy to donate to Mobility for Kids because it’s such a great cause to make sure all children, like these in Amy Wood’s class, have the chance to exercise and play.

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May 18, 2021

Every gift to Mobility for Kids is a chance to celebrate that more children will have the opportunity to be physically active and play. However, we’re extremely grateful when donors return to give again and again. That’s exactly what happened today when Rob and Jill Droubay of Droubay Chevrolet decided to donate to not just one but two schools in southern Utah.

This couple generously gave two cars to both Valley Elementary School and Kanab High School in Kane County. And they don’t plan on stopping with these gifts, either. Their goal is to work with auto dealers around Utah and the country to place Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles in schools through our Help Kids Drive to Success program.

Representatives from the schools were on hand to watch children excitedly test drive the Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles for the first time. Brandon Jensen, principal of Valley Elementary, felt that these devices would be fantastic tools “to really help some of our kids who have limited dexterity to truly get their movement going.”

If you’d like to join Rob and Jill Droubay, to Help Kids Drive to Success, just give us a call at 925.997.0652 or drop us an email at

February 17, 2021

Two children with special needs benefited from the generosity of a pair of donors this week.

Last fall, Juan received possibly the best present ever: a family. He was adopted by Tiffany and Juan Maldonado, Sr. This eight-year-old boy loves to play and even enjoys his occupational therapy sessions because they include the use of a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle. He likes riding it so much that he asked his parents to buy him one. However, his parents felt this would be good time for him to learn the lesson of saving his allowance to help buy something he wants.

His first step was to write a letter to find out how much a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle costs so he’d know how much he needed to save. Luckily for him, the day after his letter was received, Mike Reece contacted us. He’d purchased one for his grandson years ago but the boy was now too big to ride it. Mr. Reece asked that since the car was still in great shape if he could donate it to a child who may need one. What perfect timing. We arranged for Juan Jr. to receive his Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle a few days later. Now he just has to decide what else he’d like to save up for with his allowance.

Another child in Oregon received the gift of a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle almost the same day as Juan. Keith and Cindy Lampi found out how it’s used as a therapy and mobility device for children with various health conditions. They decided to donate one in hopes of helping their friend’s daughter who has Down syndrome and finds it easier to crawl rather than walk. Now she’s able to move around like other children while riding her Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle.

Maldonado family

December 17, 2020

Even during the pandemic, Shannon Nill and his company, Guaranty Chevrolet and RV Super Centers, are helping local children with special needs enjoy the freedom of mobility with mini-fleets of Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles. Disguised as fun four-wheeled toys, they provide beneficial exercise therapy with full-body workouts.

Guaranty donated several units to the Eugene School District earlier this fall and is now doing the same for the Corvallis School District. This spreads the gift throughout the I-5 corridor, keeping both UO Duck and OSU Beaver fans happy. Even with in-person elementary school classes delayed until next year, kids with special needs may check the cars out now like a library book. The Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles will be integrated in Adapted P.E. programs once schools are back in session.

Nill, who lost an arm due to a car accident as a teenager says, “I enjoy helping kids with special needs. They’re like underdogs. These Pumper Cars give them the chance to play with their friends, exercise and have the fun they deserve.”

Click on this link to read just one of the news stories that covered this very generous donation.

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November 27, 2020

The students at Fitzmorris Elementary in Arvada, Colorado, have something extra special to be thankful for this holiday season. Medved Autoplex generously donated a Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle to their Adapted P.E. program.

Amanda Meldrum, the Digital Media Coordinator for the Wheatridge car dealership said, “We were looking for a local school that we could partner and establish a relationship with.” What could be more perfect than a four-wheeled toy that provides children with a full-body workout while they also learn how to follow direction and take turns?

The school is also appreciative of Medved’s generosity because it fills a vital need. “In times when we’re seeing more budget cuts, relationships and partnerships like Medved that donate equipment that’s vital to programs and students’ physical needs is huge,” commented Liza Meier, Jeffco’s Special Education Director.

If you or your company would like to help a school in your area, please contact us by calling us at 925.997.0652 or visit our contact page. We’d be happy to talk about the various ways you can participate in our Help Kids Drive to Success program.

October 1, 2020

Mobility for Kids is grateful for our newest sponsors’ contributions to our Help Kids Drive to Success program. Guaranty, the region’s leading RV dealer, and Jerry’s, a home improvement center, recently stepped up to help children in Eugene, Oregon. All of these vehicles will be placed in Eugene’s 4J School District.

At today’s socially distanced presentation, Guaranty’s owner, Shannon Nill, delivered the six Pumper Cars to the Eugene 4J district office. Mr. Nill was impressed with how these cars will help students learn about directionality in a fun way while getting exercise. “It will give [kids with special needs] a chance to get around,” he noted. “These kids might not have the exercise options that most kids have. This can start that. They can be proud of themselves in being able to get around. Everybody’s gonna bloom, in part because of these.”

On hand for the mini event were, left to right: Katherine Lange, the district’s Student Services Director, Lara Arkin, Mobility for Kids’ Outreach Director, and Shannon Nill, Owner of Guaranty Chevrolet in Junction City.

Mobility for Kids

December 9, 2019

Santa Claus received some early assistance from 12 members of the Utah Automobile Dealers Association who wanted to help Utah’s children with special needs. These businesses generously donated 103 Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles to school districts across the state. The bright red, durable cars look like toys, but are actually mobility devices that help children with special needs develop motor skills, coordination, and balance—and enjoy physical education.

Chris Kupfer, federal programs director for Garfield School District in southern Utah, expressed gratitude for the remarkable collaborative donation: “This is an opportunity we wouldn’t have had if someone hadn’t stepped up and offered it to us.”

This past year, Utah auto dealerships Rob Droubay Chevrolet, Mark Bradshaw Chevrolet, and Stephen Wade Toyota got the ball rolling by making the initial contributions of Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles to schools. Now 12 of their colleagues are contributing these cars to schools around the Beehive State. They include Nate Wade Subaru, Seiner Chevrolet, Brad Strong Volkswagen, Blake Strong Audi and Porsche, Tim Dahle Nissan, Chris Wilson Nissan, Larry H. Miller Family Foundation, Garff Family Foundation, and Craig Bickmore of the New Car Auto Dealership of Utah.

One of the car dealers who participated in this program was Kirk Schneider of Nate Wade Subaru. He said, “Kids with special needs use these Pumper Cars and it has a really positive effect on lives, not only on their physical strength but on their self-esteem, how they see themselves and how other kids see them.”

We at Mobility for Kids are extremely grateful to all of the dealers throughout Utah who have generously donated Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles to these children to improve their mobility and confidence. Our goal for 2020 is to begin working with other car dealers around the country to continue the movement that was started in Utah.

For more information about this special donation, we invite you to click on the links below to see the news coverage provided by these two television stations Fox 13 and ABC 4 .

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June 27, 2019

We’re thrilled to announce a new partnership with the New Auto Dealers Association of Utah. Craig Bickmore, the organization’s executive director, pledged during the superintendents annual meeting today that his organization will provide Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles for students with special needs statewide. Throughout the summer, school officials will determine the number of children in their districts who would most benefit from this donation. We will then coordinate with local dealers to place Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles in the area schools.

This project was jump-started last fall and this spring with donations in five counties by Droubay Chevrolet, Stephen Wade Auto Group, and Bradshaw Chevrolet. Cathy Cahoon, a specialist who works with children with special needs in these counties, told the superintendents about the notable progress that’s already been seen in these students’ physical and academic abilities. We invite you to read the article below from The Davis Clipper that provides more information about our successful presentation and how the Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles have begun to change the lives of children with special needs in Utah.

Now that we’ve secured this incredible donation across the state of Utah, we’re headed north to Idaho to see how we can help the students in their 90+ school districts.

Read Full Article

March 27, 2019

P.E. teachers and administrators at schools in St. George, Utah, felt like they won the lottery when the Stephen Wade Auto Group presented a fleet of 58 Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles to their physical education programs during a special event today. These crimson mobility devices will give both able-bodied and physically challenged children excellent workouts as they follow a unique curriculum that simultaneously promotes good health and fun.

Photos courtesy of Chris Caldwell and The Spectrum & Daily News.

Click on this link to read the full article.

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January 30, 2019

“We’re always interested in anything that helps our kids progress.”

— Mark Bradshaw

Nine Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles will be driven around the Iron County School District starting next month, thanks to a generous gift from Bradshaw Chevrolet. Read more about their donation and why this dealership believes that promoting good health and well-being in our kids today is a good move toward developing the leaders of tomorrow.

Photo courtesy of Iron Country Today.

Click on this link to read the full article.

Bradshaw Donation

October 11, 2018

Rob and Jill Droubay of Droubay Chevrolet, were the first to come on board with our program Help Kids Drive to Success. They chose to present 20 Pumper Car® ride-on vehicles in a series of events throughout Utah’s Millard County School District.

A boy with Down syndrome was one of those fortunate enough to take a new Pumper Car® ride-on vehicle on its initial test drive. As he raced his classmates around the gym, a big smile came across his face. The Droubays were told by several teachers that they hadn’t seen this boy with that kind of a smile before. Rob commented, “[It] was very heartwarming to see!”

Mobility for Kids Donation
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