Norwalk Robotics Team Builds Special Wheelchair for Local Child

NORWALK, Iowa -- A group of Norwalk students made life a little easier for a Winterset girl when they presented a customized pediatric wheelchair to her Tuesday evening.

The "Norwalk Robo Warriors" spend their summer break convening at least once a week to engineer their product for 4-year-old Mahleah Scheffield.

Her mother, Stacy Scheffield, said Mahleah has delays and was also born with epilepsy, which effects her mobility.

"She has no say in where she's going," Scheffield said. "In the house she gets around mostly by crawling and some walking."

Mahleah's occupational therapist, Amy Ramsey, said she thinks this could be life changing at this key developmental time for her.

"She can’t independently walk safely at this time, so that is why it will be so awesome for her because she will be safe and on her own to get where she wants to go," she said.

Ramsey said Mahleah's ability to move quickly through this device will help develop skills like hand-eye coordination faster.

The Robo Warrios hoped the give Mahleah the opportunity to move around as she pleases with their new device. The group of students from all grades spent their summer working on this project once or twice a week. They took parts from a go-cart as a base and customized it for Mahleah.

"All summer long we didn't think about it, it's just another thing we were building," student Eli  Newland said. "And tonight it just hit, this is gonna be great for her."

Mahleah test drove her device to make sure everything was sound. Her older brothers got to give it a spin, too. The wheelchair-chair hybrid has control handles on both arms for Mahleah to control the direction she goes in. The club even customized details like her favorite colors to personalize it.

Another student who worked on the project said the reward was worth the long hours they put into it.

"The benefit of getting to help someone out is really worth it and it was a great experience in every way," Sydney Fisher said.

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