Johns Hopkins University engineering students answered a call to help a Maryland family, designing a walker to help the family’s smallest member learn to get around on her own.
RoseLynn Lidy was born with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes physical, cognitive, and medical challenges. At 2, she is 24 inches tall and weighs just over 11 pounds—far too small for commercially available walkers.
"I don't think you all know how much this means to us and to our daughter," RoseLynn’s mother, Annetta, said when the students set up the walker at the family home in Cecil County. "Since Rosie was born, we've been hearing what kids with this syndrome can't do. But we've chosen to concentrate on what our daughter can do. With this walker, we believe Rosie can learn to walk."
Rosie's physical therapist had recommended she practice bearing weight on her legs. V-LINC, a Baltimore nonprofit that matches people with challenges to volunteers who can help, brought in the Johns Hopkins student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. A five-member team met Rosie and her family, took measurements, and got to work. They used a water-jet cutter in the University machine shop to fabricate components from strong, lightweight plastic. Wheels, brackets, braces, and a folding mechanism were added in the Whiting School of Engineering MakerSpace. Freshman Charlotte Quinn painted the walker green, yellow, and red, with Rosie's name in white script.
Meeting Rosie had inspired team members to get the walker "just right," sophomore Caterina Esposito said. "Honestly, at times, it was a little frightening knowing the … effect this project would have on this child and family. In the end, it inspired us to do the best job possible so that Rosie can live her best life."