Norwalk Kids Help Classmate Get “Robot” to Keep Her Part of the Classroom

NORWALK, Iowa  --  A young girl from Norwalk will be more connected than ever to her classmates thanks to their love for her and the generosity of the community.

This year Oviatt Elementary School welcomed a new student, Alannah.  However her time in the classroom was short-lived.  After a few days of class in the fall Alannah fell sick.  She suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, a disease that leaves her highly susceptible to infection from common germs.  Now she stays home but joins her classmates everyday via iPad.

Currently Alannah's iPad is held by a stand on wheels that allows classmates to wheel her around the room.  However her teacher, Jennifer McLaughlin, recently learned about a "robot" used by another girl in Alannah's same situation.  McLaughlin told her class about the device and they immediately hatched a plan to get one for Alannah.

The class wrote a letter to a local charitable group, "The 100 Men of Norwalk", asking for help to purchase the device.  A few weeks after sending off the letter, McLaughlin got the call that the group would help them out.  ""I wanted to call all my kids right away but it was 9 o'clock at night," says McLaughlin, "I came to school the next day and you would have thought we were having a huge party because we won a million dollars.   It is worth a million dollar the kids are so excited and happy to do this."

On Wednesday the "100 Men of Norwalk" presented the classroom with a check for $9,000 to purchase Alannah's robot.  She will be able to control the device from home, moving it around the classroom and moving the camera on the iPad on her own to look around the room.