Note: Mia Lopez and Tristan Venegas, media students at Lynn, wrote this article. Jeremiah Brown provided revisions. The article was lightly edited by Sun News staff before publication.
LAS CRUCES – Students from a Lynn Community Middle School sixth-grade class, intent on helping a young girl with special needs, spent a day at a local workshop creating and refining a mobility car for the girl.
Hope Harrison suffers from Trisomy 18, a chromosomal defect which affects her mobility and leads to other developmental delays.
Rachel Harrison, Hope’s mother, said her daughter wasn’t supposed to make it due to this life-threatening condition. But Hope overcame the odds and continues to be healthy. She turned 8 on April 11.
Hope is a girly girl who loves baseball, her mom said. She has attended Valley View Elementary School since kindergarten. While at Valley View, teachers noticed how lively Hope is and recommended a program called GoBabyGo!
GoBabyGo! provides “modified, ride-on cars to young children with disabilities so they can move around independently,” according to the website.
The students in Sergio Marquez’s Advanced Educational Services class at Lynn learned about Hope and that they could build a modified car for her at Cruces Creatives, a nonprofit makerspace.
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“At first, we didn’t really realize how big of a deal it was, but once we saw what we had to do it just kind of clicked and we knew why we were here,” said Juan Renteria, a student from Lynn involved in the programme.
Hope’s mother Rachel was appreciative.
“It’s awesome to see all these students work on the project,” she said.
Building the car
One day in April, the students headed to Cruces Creatives, which has many opportunities for the community. The nonprofit organization has things such as a recording studio, woodworking room, sewing room and much more. Many donors help improve it by donating materials for others to use. Cruces Creatives provides access to tools that not all may be able to get easily.
There, the students grouped up and each had a specific task.
One group helped construct the vehicle and tailor it to Hope’s needs. The students in this group worked alongside Jon Simmons, a partner with Cruces Creatives. Simmons guided them while working on the engineering portion of the car. The group fitted it for her comfort and also added a control panel for her to move with just the swipe of a hand.
The second group customized a seat specifically for Hope; Lynn Community School Coordinator Johnny Rivera helped with this.
A third group helped customize the vehicle’s exterior. The group got ideas of things Hope liked from Rachel’s mom. The group added baseball elements while using pink accents to make it “girly,” while also adding some special finishing touches. On the hood of the car, Hope’s name is displayed in pink cursive font.
The middle-schoolers finished the modifications to Hope’s mobility car on April 8 and she was able to try it out and take it home that day.
Rachel said she was pleased with the experience and the final outcome.
“I am very happy and amazed at what good work such young people can do. I hope you guys realize that you can do anything you put your mind to,” Rachel said, adding that she would definitely recommend GoBabyGo!
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Though the goal for the project was to help give hope a sense of freedom, the Lynn students also got something out of it — a valuable learning experience.
“It feels good to help give back to the community, you know?” said Jeremiah Brown, another student from Lynn. “I feel like we take the stuff that’s given to us for granted and there are other people who can’t enjoy it the way we can.”
Author’s note: It was so nice to see how cooperative everyone was with the project. They all really put their full effort into getting this complete. We feel like a lot of people don’t think middle schoolers are capable of doing great things but that’s completely incorrect. Lynn Middle School really does give great opportunities, we are all so proud to be a part of something so big and to see Hope’s joy while using the car.