Jun 12, 2012 09:55 AM EDT
Milwaukee College Students Help Disabled 12-Year-Old Girl Feed Herself
Eight students have put their talents to good use to help a girl whose arms do not work and cannot feed herself, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reports.
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A group of six engineering students from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., and two industrial design students from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design have successfully created a simple but effective device that will help Kailyn Pieper feel comfortable eating in her school cafeteria.
Born seven weeks premature with a rare congenital disorder that affected the formation of her joints, 12-year-old Kailyn does not have the use of her arms.
Kailyn has learned to do practically everything -- write, draw, play with dolls and even gift wrap presents -- all with her dexterous toes.
Thanks to her can-do attitude, Kailyn, who started middle school last year, hasn't had much difficulty blending in with her peers.
"She's so good with who she is," Holli Martin, the school counselor, told the Journal Sentinel.
But one aspect of middle school life remained a challenge for Kailyn.
Though she could hold a spoon or fork between her toes at home during mealtimes, she felt uncomfortable using her feet to eat while in the school cafeteria with her friends.
So, instead, Kailyn would lower her face right into her plate to get the food into her mouth.
Kailyn's stepmother, Jennifer Bunke, reached out to Marquette University in Milwaukee in the hope that students might be able to come up with an effective solution.
Amazingly, a group of engineering seniors decided they would dedicate their senior project to helping the little girl find a way to feed herself in public.
It took the students nine months of hard work and countless sleepless nights to get the project completed.
The hard work paid off. Because Kailyn loves it.
"These are things that make me happy, and you're one of those things...Thanks from the bottom of my heart for helping improve the quality of my life one spoonful at a time. Love, Kailyn Pieper."
Read the full story by the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel here.