Review Category : Health

New app dubbed ‘Tinder for Moms’ aims to help mothers connect

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Many moms find that making new friends later in life can be just as challenging as dating.

A new app called Peanut was created to help connect like-minded mothers and give them the opportunity to form new friendships.

Michelle Kennedy, co-founder and CEO of Peanut, says she was inspired to start the app after feeling lonely as a new mom.

“It was 2 a.m., I was scrolling through Instagram looking at my girlfriends in the club and I just felt I needed to speak to another woman who was doing the same thing as me,” Kennedy told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Similar to many dating apps, moms can sign up on Peanut through Facebook and create a profile. Moms can include how many children they have and can choose from different phrases like “mom boss,” “geek chic” or “wine time” to describe themselves.

The app uses an algorithm to match moms with similar interests. Users can then swipe up to give other moms a “wave” to spark a conversation and say hello. When another mom waves back, the app highlights their shared interests.

Peanut says more than one million “waves” have been exchanged since February.

Mothers can also create group chats in the app to start larger conversations and create meetups.

Lindsay Donnelly, Jamie Kolnick and Jessica Flowman, three moms who live in New York City, said they’ve become good friends through the app.

“It was great opportunity to meet people down the street and be like ‘Let’s go to the park,’ and ‘Are you ready in 5 minutes? Let’s meet in 5 minutes.’ It’s easy that way,” Kolnick said.

They say the app has helped them build a much-needed support system.

“Becoming a mom definitely changes you and having friends who can understand your circumstances, and support you in this new lifestyle that you’re living [is critical],” Donnelly said. “I think both Jess and Jamie have helped me to be a support system in the new time frame and I’ve learned from them I’ve enjoyed spending time with them. It’s been a blast.”

Erica Souter, editor of mom.me, told GMA the app helps alleviate two of the biggest pitfalls of new motherhood: loneliness and isolation.

“It’s really great to find other moms you can connect with, be honest with, share your ups and downs with and moms tell us that connection goes a long way to making them feel happy and more complete. And it makes them a better parent,” she said.

Souter also suggests that new moms meet up in a public place like a park, playground or restaurant at first. She added that mothers can also join church groups or volunteer to meet like-minded parents.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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5 children sickened by ‘cloud of chlorine gas’ at Florida pool

Peter Cade/Getty(TAMPA, Fla.) — Five children were transported to the hospital in Tampa after a malfunction at a local indoor swimming pool caused a concentrated “cloud of chlorine gas” to form, according to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue department.

The incident took place at around 7 p.m. on Monday, when authorities responded to a 911 call saying there was a chemical release at the Calypso Pool in Tampa.

“Five pediatric patients were transported from the scene to the hospital for evaluation after complaining of stomach discomfort and nausea after leaving the indoor pool area,” the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue department said in a statement. The children had respiratory burns, stomach irritation and were vomiting, authorities said.

The owner of the pool told officials that a thunderstorm earlier that day caused a water pump at one of the indoor pools to shut off, leading to chlorine build-up in one of the pipes. When the pump started working again, “it pushed the chemical mix into the pool causing a small cloud of chlorine gas,” according to the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue department.

A hazmat crew arrived and assisted in ventilating the pool area, and eventually determined the building and pool to be safe.

The Calypso Pool operators told ABC News in a statement that the incident was a “freak accident.”

“We’ve trained hundreds of kids for water safety and our concern is about everyone’s safety,” the statement added. “We believe that it was a malfunction.”

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Tales from patients that stand to lose a lot from GOP health bill

Credit: Joe Merlino(WASHINGTON) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, has decided to postpone a vote on Republicans’ legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, after concluding he does not have the votes to pass the bill this week before the chamber goes on recess for the 4th of July holiday.

Several large patient and hospital groups, including the AARP and American Medical Association, have expressed skepticism about the draft legislation when it was first released last week in the Senate, but ramped up their opposition to the bill after the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) presented its formal analysis on Monday. The CBO report estimates that over the next 10 years, 22 million Americans would end up uninsured under the Senate plan as compared to trajectories under current law. The difference was largely a result of deep cuts to Medicaid within the proposal, as well as smaller subsidies in the form of tax credits to help people purchase insurance on the individual market.

In addition, the CBO outlined ways in which some of the sickest and most vulnerable Americans could be subject to changes in regulations that could dramatically increase out of pocket costs.

Many groups seemed to breathe a momentary sigh of relief when leadership announced any vote would be delayed. Samantha McGovern works closely with March of Dimes, one of the many health care groups that came out against the bill. March of Dimes works specifically on prenatal health, infant mortality, and care for premature babies.

McGovern’s daughter Josephine was born premature at 24 weeks in 2016 in northern Virginia. As a result of all of the complications with the development of her lungs, Josephine had to be hospitalized for over a year — 407 days, to be exact.

McGovern and her husband both have steady incomes and robust health insurance, which he receives for their family through his job with the federal government. Still, McGovern worries about the possibility of states receiving waivers that would allow them the ability to overturn bans on lifetime and annual limits under the GOP plan.

“We are still very much in the thick of this,” she told ABC News. Josephine still relies on a feeding tube to eat and tracheotomy to breathe. She will likely need round-the-clock care, even at home, for the next few years.

“When people talk about the life time maximums and annual caps, that absolutely terrifies me,” McGovern said. One of Josephine’s medicines costs $7,000 per month before insurance, according to her mother. “When would that go into effect? What about the millions of dollars we have already made our insurance company pay out? If this passes, is she suddenly not insured?”

The McGoverns benefitted immensely from Medicaid during the first year of Josephine’s life, and still do now. The state of Virginia offered them so-called “institutional Medicaid,” a program that helps patients and families cover especially long hospital stays for sick children, even if they earn more income than traditional Medicaid enrollees. Their private insurance did not cover home care either, and they were able to apply for Medicaid help from the state for that as well.

“I never thought in a million years I would be someone who needs Medicaid,” said McGovern, who works in communications for a university in Washington, D.C. “I think what people don’t realize is what the actual cost of health care is… If our family was just a healthy family and were talking about an occasional cold, our insurance would be fine. But when you start talking about $26,000 a month, unless you are wealthy, you don’t have that money.” She estimates that figure as the total cost of caring for her daughter these days, which includes a home ventilator and in-home nursing.

The CBO report indicates the Republican bill will shrink Medicaid funding by nearly $800 billion over the next 10 years. While there is some specific language in the bill to make sure disabled children are not included in newly established monetary caps per enrollee, it’s unclear to many families how the details would shake out. Would the state of Virginia, for instance, still be able to offer that long-term hospitalization assistance to a family like the McGoverns, who have two steady paychecks, if its overall budget for Medicaid was cut so dramatically?

“They are going to have to make hard decisions,” McGovern said. “How do you choose between someone’s grandmother and someone’s baby?”

Joe Merlino, 51, lives in Nevada and petitioned his Republican senator to vote against the bill. Merlino was diagnosed with a rare form of larynx cancer six years ago and relied on individual, non-group insurance he was able to purchases on the state’s exchange.

Merlino was misdiagnosed in 2009 and lost his job a year later. When he found a new customer service job in 2011 with Southwest Airlines, he immediately made an appointment. That doctor found a two-centimeter mass.

His surgery and recovery took him away from work for a few years, and he eventually lost his employer-based insurance again. He was living off of disability insurance payments, which was when he was pleased to learn that — just by a matter of months — that he qualified for government assistance through Medicaid.

Beginning in 2014, under Obamacare, states like Nevada, which opted for matching federal funds, could extend their Medicaid coverage to Americans earning less than 133 percent of national poverty line, whether or not they had children or were disabled. This is equivalent to an individual earning about $15,600 per year.

“Thank goodness for that Medicaid expansion, because without that, I would have never been able to get the procedures I needed,” he told ABC News. “I probably would have died.”

The federal dollars for those Medicaid expansion programs would dry up within the next 4-6 years under the Republican House and Senate plans. Merlino is currently covered through private, individual insurance he purchases every month, which he prefers to Medicaid.

“It was just amazing, and allowed me the freedom to see my doctor without having to jump through all the hoops,” he said, adding that he pays $160 per month with $500 out -of-pocket total for his plan. ABC News was not able to verify those numbers.

“There is a stereotype about ‘welfare queens,’ which I think is so horrible,” he said during his interview. “There are many different types of people on Medicaid, and you never know when you are going to be one of them, and that what’s I found out…. the hard way.

“You can go from way up high to way down low as fast as a doctor’s phone call,” he adds.

Marcy Shelton is relatively healthy for her age. At 62, she worries about that doctor’s phone call and whether her premiums might go up as well.

“It’s all a little bit scary,” she told ABC News.

Shelton used to be a clerk taking gambler’s bets at some of the nation’s fanciest horse racetracks in California, but over time her hours shifted and were cut back. Her union offered her early retirement but no insurance, so she bought individual coverage on the state exchange.

She went with one of the cheapest options, she says. The plan has a high deductible, over $6500. She called it a “catastrophic policy,” but she’s happy with it.

Because of her age and income, Shelton could receive a much smaller subsidy to purchase her own insurance under the Senate plan. Between her retirement and Social Security payments, she says she brings in about $44,400 per year before taxes. According to the latest CBO report, a 64-year-old making $25,600 a year could see their annual individual insurance premium rise by $2,000. Someone the same age, making $56,800 could see a jump over $10,000 a year because of smaller tax credits, the organization estimates. Shelton’s income puts her somewhere in between.

“They should be going after the big insurance and prescription drug companies about how much they charge, instead of having to fight for supplements,” she said. She’s an active Democrat and has been volunteering with the Center for American Progress to lobby against the bill.

“If they get those guys normal, they wouldn’t need all this,” she says.

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Nine senior citizen couples renew their vows at senior care center

Carolina SeniorCare/Lexington, North Carolina(LEXINGTON, N.C.) — Love was in the air for nine senior citizen couples who renewed their wedding vows on June 22.

The special event was organized by Carolina SeniorCare in Lexington, North Carolina.

“It was wonderful seeing my wife walk down the aisle. She was beautiful,” Raymond Clifton told ABC News of his wife, Brenda Clifton. “She cried coming down that aisle.”

Most of the couples said they could not afford big ceremonies the first time around, so this was a lovely way to celebrate.

“I didn’t have a wedding dress when we first got married,” Linda Owen said of her 56-year marriage to her husband, Sam Owen. “This time I had the white wedding dress and the veil and it was very nice.”

The community rallied together to donate dresses, veils, suits, a 3-tier cake, makeup and hair services.

“Sitting down and speaking with them, most of them weren’t able to afford a real wedding, and we were thinking June is the month for weddings, so why not provide a wedding service for them that they weren’t allowed to have when they were young?” Misty Polston-York, director of spiritual life for Carolina SeniorCare, told ABC News of what inspired the big day.

One bride, Iris Ingram, was even surprised with a wedding band—something she’d never had before.

“I’ve been married 40 years and it meant a lot when I got these rings,” Iris Ingram, 65, said while fighting back tears. “My husband said I deserved it. You wouldn’t believe it – I thought I was going to the foot doctor. It was like a dream.”

Polston-York said Carolina SeniorCare’s foundation purchased the ring to help Iris Ingram’s husband, Clifton Ingram, surprise her over a nice dinner instead of a doctor’s appointment like she was told.

“It was a success,” Polston-York said of the special occasion. “We found out later our second dayroom was having their own reception and they were playing ‘Brick House’ and dancing. We took them to different stations and they got their picture made with the backdrop and cutting the wedding cake. We’re making a little book for them to have of that. It was an overwhelming success. We had standing room only. All the staff came to see it and they were all in the background crying.”

The nine couples have a combined 254 years of marriage between them.

“It’s really amazing in this time when marriages are fleeting,” Polston-York. “These people have stuck it out over their lifetime.”

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South Carolina parents shocked by their 14-pound newborn

Courtesy Arthur Keisler and Cindy Richmond(LEXINGTON, S.C.) — When Cindy Richmond gave birth to her son, she had no idea he’d break records.

Her newborn, Colin Austin Keisler, weighed a whopping 14 pounds.

“I make ‘em big,” the proud father, Arthur Keisler, of Lexington, South Carolina, told ABC News. “The room completely changed as soon as they got him out. The doctor said, ‘Whoa, this is a big baby.’

“You could hear the other nurses in the room trying to guess how big he was. They said, ‘We need to weigh him right now.’ They pulled the scale into the operating room and the room erupted into like, ‘Oh, my God, this is the craziest thing ever.’”

Dr. Jaime Brown-Price said Colin was the largest baby she’s ever delivered at Lexington Medical Center. A nurse in the delivery room, Donna Hinton, agreed.

“I have been an obstetrics nurse for 29 years and I have never seen a 14-pound baby born before,” Hinton said.

Richmond has two other children, both of which were average weight. Her oldest son, Carson, was 7 pounds, 6 ounces, and her daughter, Samantha, was 9 pounds, 8 ounces.

She said she was amused by everyone’s reactions to the overwhelming size of her newborn.

“We were in the surgery room and everyone was getting their phones out to Google who is the biggest baby. I couldn’t believe it,” Richmond, 37, said. “When I went to the doctor three weeks ago he was about 10 to 11 pounds and I’m like, ‘Oh, OK.’ So he gained about a pound a week so this makes so much sense now why I was so uncomfortable. But I wasn’t thinking it would be 14 pounds.”

The baby’s grandparents had to bring a new set of larger clothes for Colin to wear home from the hospital.

“When he came out at 14 pounds, that’s pretty much a 4- or 5-month-old toddler,” dad Keisler, 38, said. “I was on cloud nine and went down to the gift shop and was walking around in a haze and I was like, ‘I need to find him a cute outfit he’ll fit into.’

“My wife’s parents came for a visit and we ended up getting them to stop by the house to get him some clothes he could actually fit into. We were prepared at home with clothes from birth to 12 months, so we were prepared for the long term, but not for the hospital term.”

The parents said their baby is happy and healthy despite his unusually large size.

“The big thing they were curious about is diabetes during pregnancy,” Keisler said. “It can lead to a baby being large like Colin, but my wife had been tested throughout the pregnancy and she did not have diabetes. Once he was born they were concerned about blood sugar but they tested him three times that day and he is perfectly fine. He’s just naturally big.”

The excited dad is already planning Colin’s future as an all-star athlete.

“A lot of people immediately think football when they learn how big he is, but I’m a big baseball fan so I’d love him to play baseball,” dad said. “I definitely want him to play for the Clemson [University] Tigers. We bleed orange over here. But, in all honestly, whatever he does in life is fine as long as he’s the best at it.”

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Principal challenges students to disconnect from devices, offers $100 incentive

ABC News(WASHINGTON) — A school principal from Washington, D.C. is challenging her students to spend one day a week this summer without using any electronic devices, and is promising a reward of $100 — of her own money — for each student that completes the challenge.

“I really want the kids not mindlessly grabbing for the phone, but thinking about whether or not the phone … is going to be their source of entertainment,” Diana Smith, principal of the Washington Latin Public Charter School, told ABC News.

The educator decided to find a creative way to motivate her students to disconnect from their devices, and launched the “No-Tech-Tuesday Summer Challenge,” which asks students to spend each of the 11 Tuesdays over summer break completely disconnected from any of their screens. Smith is even incentivizing students with cash.

“The challenge is that they go without any screens or devices for the eleven Tuesdays of the summer and if they do that,” Smith said. “I will give them $100.”

The challenge is open to all 160 rising 8th and 9th graders in her school, meaning the challenge could set her back up to $16,000. Students have to prove they did not use their devices by having two adults send a letter to her, “confirming that they know, with certainty, that you had no screen time on any of the 11 summer Tuesdays,” Smith wrote on the school’s website.

Smith said the interest so far from students and parents has been overwhelming, and that the “kids are mostly in their competitive mode,” as they embark on the challenge.

One student, 14-year-old Nikolas Davis, told ABC News that he normally spends four to six hours a day online, but since agreeing to take part in the challenge, he has been thinking about strategies for how to stay offline over summer break.

He said he hopes to “read a book, ride my bike, go running or exercise in a gym,” during his newfound tech-free time.

Smith said she hopes that having the students spend time without their devices will result in long term habit changes.

“I’m hoping it will be disruptive enough to get them think about, ‘Gee, maybe I liked who I was on Tuesday, and maybe I want to be like that on Wednesday and Thursday too,'” Smith said.

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Mom credits app with saving baby’s life

Emily Eekhoff(NEW YORK) — The Iowa mom who credits a cellphone app with helping to save her daughter’s life is sharing with other pregnant women what she learned from the near-death experience.

Emily Eekhoff was 33 weeks pregnant when she said she noticed her baby’s movements had changed. Eekhoff had been a frequent user of the app Count the Kicks, which helps a mom track her child’s movement patterns during the third trimester of pregnancy.

“I was aware just of how much she usually moved during the day with the app’s help,” Eekhoff said in an interview that aired Tuesday on ABC News’ Good Morning America. “The kicks were not happening as frequently as they usually did and when she did move, it was really, like, soft, subtle, not, like, hard kicks like normal.”

Concerned, Eekhoff went to Mercy Medical Center on May 30 in Des Moines, to get checked out. That same day, a heart rate test and ultrasound revealed that Eekhoff’s baby was in distress and Eekhoff had to undergo an emergency C-section, according to Neil Mandsager, medical director of the Perinatal Center of Iowa at Mercy.

“We knew the baby was in trouble and we alerted the obstetric emergency doctor and advised him to get the baby delivered,” Mandsager told ABC News. “They found an umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck three times. It’s very possible that this baby was not going to make it much longer.”

Baby Ruby was born at 33 weeks, 5 days along and had a 10-day stay in the NICU.

Eekhoff said she didn’t realize the “magnitude” of how the app helped in Ruby’s early birth until she said her doctors told her going to the hospital just one day later “would’ve been too late.”

“The app helped me to know her patterns of movement so when the pattern changed, I knew something was wrong, which did save her life,” Eekhoff said. “Because I might have waited longer had I not known her patterns or been using the app, and that could’ve been too late.”

Eekhoff said she hopes other pregnant women learn from her own experience to listen closely to their bodies.

“They need to just be aware of their body and their baby and notice and so that when things change that they can go and get help sooner rather than later,” she said.

Mandsager knows the five Iowa moms who started the Count the Kicks app in 2009, after they each lost a daughter to stillbirth or infant death. They first began their stillbirth prevention efforts in 2004 by working with the Iowa legislature to create Iowa’s Stillbirth Registry.

After learning of a campaign that taught pregnant women how to monitor fetal movement with kick counts, the women decided to launch Count the Kicks. The same year, the women created Healthy Birth Day, Inc. — a nonprofit organization to help fund efforts in spreading the Count the Kicks message.

Emily Price, executive director of Healthy Birth Day and Count the Kicks, told ABC News that moms should count at least once a day to see how long it takes baby to get 10 movements, or “kicks, rolls or jabs.”

“If the amount of time it takes to get to 10 changes significantly, they should contact their provider right away because a change in how long it takes to get to 10 could be an indication that something is wrong,” Price wrote to ABC News in an email. “When you and I don’t feel well we move less. We want to lie on the couch or in bed and not move. It’s the same thing with babies. When they are not feeling well, they move less. Sometimes kick counting is the only indication — and the earliest indication — that something is wrong in there.”

She added: “We are so grateful that Count the Kicks empowered Emily and helped save Ruby. When moms have the Count the Kicks app in their hands they have a lifesaving tool. We are also deeply grateful to Mercy Medical Center and Dr. Neil Mandsager for telling moms about the importance of kick counting. They are powerful partners in saving babies with us.”

Eekhoff — who describes Ruby now as a “healthy” and “easy” baby — even met with some of the moms who started the Count the Kicks app.

“I’m thankful for them for doing something out of their loss and saving my own because I don’t know if I would’ve caught it had I not been using the app,” Eekhoff said. “They are so thankful and grateful and likewise, so I think we do have a bond just because they have made a huge impact on my own family.”

Mandsager said he encouraged the women to start the app, which he agreed, may have saved baby Ruby Eekhoff’s life.

“We’ve certainly seen it happen where we can directly connect mom counting baby’s actions as saving [a life],” he added. “Ruby is one great example. There have been others. Most of the time, women will come in and they’ll say baby’s movements decreased and everything will be fine. We would much rather have a false positive, but we are happy to see those babies to make sure they are OK.”

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Study: Over 80% of parents have made a dosing error when giving medicine to children

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More than 80 percent of parents have made at least one dosing error when administering medicine to their young children, according to a new study released on Tuesday by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The study, called “Pictograms, Units and Dosing Tools, and Parent Medication Errors: A Randomized Study,” looked at 491 parents of children 8 years old or younger and found that 83.5 percent of parents made at least one dosing error, and that 12.1 percent of those errors were overdosing errors.

The study suggested that less-than-optimal labeling and packaging are some of the key contributors to pediatric dosing errors. The researchers suggested creating dosing tools for parents that match more closely with prescribed dose volumes as a strategy to prevent future errors.

The researchers also found that using “pictographic dosing diagrams,” or providing pictures for parents to follow in dosing, as well as using milliliter-only labels were helpful in preventing dosing errors.

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Grieving dad hears deceased daughter’s heart beat in donor recipient

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A grieving Midwestern father stopped in Louisiana this month to hear his deceased daughter’s heart beat inside a donor recipient during his cycling trip from Wisconsin to Florida as part of an effort to increase funding for organ donation.

Bill Conner of Madison, Wisconsin, decided to go on the 2,000-mile trek after his 20-year-old daughter, Abbey, died while on vacation in Cancun, Mexico, in January.

“On her winter break with her brother … they both were found unconscious, face down in chest deep water in the resort’s pool,” Conner wrote on his GoFundMe page of the Florida accident. “Unfortunately, Abigail didn’t make it even after medical intervention.”

His son survived.

Conner is biking to Ft. Lauderdale’s Broward Health Medical Center which, he said, “took exceptional care of my daughter and prepared her to donate her organs.”

“The loss of my daughter’s life is obviously beyond tragic. However, it has allowed four males from the ages of 20-60 to live because Abigail was an organ donor,” Conner wrote. “Abigail’s eyes and tissues were also used which means even more people are living better lives with her donations.”

Of her harvested organs, Abbey’s heart was donated to Loumonth Jack Jr., a 21-year-old Louisiana man who had suffered a heart attack and desperately needed a transplant.

In the video shared by Donate Life Louisiana, after a loving embrace between the two men, Jack hands Conner a stethoscope. Conner puts the stethoscope earpieces in as Jack slowly unbuttons his shirt so Conner can listen to his heartbeat.

As Conner listens to what was once his daughter’s heartbeat on Father’s Day, he places his hand on Jack’s shoulder, smiles and then quietly sobs.

Jack puts his hand on Conner’s shoulder, too, as if to comfort him.

“Well, it’s working,” Conner jokes as he removed the stethoscope and wipes his tears on his sleeve.

So far, Conner has raised more than $19,000 for his cause.

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High school student turns toy into motorized scooter for girl unable to walk on her own

Lynn Brochu(HINESBURG, Vt.) — A 4-year-old girl with limited mobility has a new set of motorized wheels, thanks to a high school inventor.

Miley Brochu was all smiles and pure awe recently when she got to take her powered mobility scooter for a spin around a classroom.

Rising senior Willem Hillier of Champlain Valley Union High in Hinesburg, Vermont, was the lead engineer on the science project, which called for fashioning the scooter out of a Power Wheels toy.

“Working on this project, it’s for this girl here,” Hillier told the Burlington Free Press. “She can’t really walk, and so this is going to be her first opportunity to be able to move herself.”

Hillier spent three months revamping the Power Wheels, utilizing a 3D printer, adding a better battery and rewriting the code for the joystick that helps Miley direct her mini-vehicle.

Therapists at the University of Vermont’s Center for Disability and Inclusion I-Team assisted Hillier and the Champlain Valley Union team before connecting with Miley and suggesting her as a possible recipient. Miley is a survivor of Shaken Baby Syndrome, and was adopted by Phil and Lynn Brochu. She is unable to walk on her own.

I-Team physical therapist Tamra Yandow and occupational therapist Deb Sharpe said the newfound, independent mobility will be a game-changer for the young girl.

They also said it will give her a chance to practice getting around on her own as she awaits the arrival of her powered wheelchair.

“Kids who are unable to walk, if you give them the ability to independently move, then their other motor skills increase. Their social skills increase. Their play skills can increase,” Yandow said. “It’s good for their verbal and language skills. It just encompasses everything, if you give them that independence.”

Olaf Verdonk, the team’s robotics and engineering teacher, said other teams had now embarked on projects to help students with disabilities at the school.

“The big piece that this project tied in was empathy, and that’s a big piece of the design thinking that doesn’t really happen in most cases. … That’s been a really wonderful piece. … It’s no longer their [the students’] ego saying, ‘This is the best idea,'” Verdonk said. “They actually have to think about the empathy piece, which is awesome.”

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