Lakota East students build mini-cars for toddlers with disabilities

Remington Willman and his mother, Melanie, smile as he enjoys his new mini-car. The car, which was custom-made for him by Lakota East students, is a stylish alternative to a motorized wheelchair and will allow him to play and socialize more easily. WCPO
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Remington Willman and his mother, Melanie, smile as he enjoys his new mini-car. The car, which was custom-made for him by Lakota East students, is a stylish alternative to a motorized wheelchair and will allow him to play and socialize more easily. WCPO

A group of Lakota East High School students visited at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on Thursday and personally delivered a heartwarming handmade surprise to a pair of toddlers with disabilities.

“I felt pure joy in my heart,” said Albert Cho, one of the students. “It was a blessing to be here today.”

Cho and his classmates, all of whom participate in engineering programs through Butler Tech, built custom mini-cars for two local toddlers to help them play and socialize more easily with their peers.

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The cars, according to a statement from Butler Tech, are a “cost-effective alternative to motorized wheelchairs” that allow the two toddler boys greater independence in exploring their world.

The students worked closely with therapists to build a car that was truly custom-made for each boy, down to his interests, size and the physical adaptations he would need to operate the little vehicle.

And in case the boys get too adventurous, both cars have a parental override system that can allow an adult to steer or stop the car.

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“I felt we’re helping them move more, get out and play with other kids,” said Emily Willms, a Lakota East student who helped build the cars.

Melanie Willman said it’s heartening to see her son smile as he zooms around.

“It’s really cool to see him work stuff like that, because you know he’s in there,” she said.

Journal-News media partner WCPO contributed to this report.