Middle Schoolers Build Mobility Car for Girl with Trisomy 18

Rachel Harrison remembers what the doctors told her when her daughter Hope was born – that she wasn’t going to make it. You see, Hope was born with a rare chromosomal condition called Trisomy 18 where only around 5-10% of those who have it live beyond age 1. But Hope has been a fighter. In fact, she recently turned 8 years old. Hope loves baseball and being active. 

According to a story in the Las Cruces Sun News, largely written and edited by students at Lynn Community Middle School, teachers at Hope’s elementary school suggested that her family participate in “Go Baby Go.” This program helps provide modified cars to children with disabilities to encourage them to explore their world through independent mobility. 

Building a Mobility Car

So when sixth graders at Lynn Community Middle School heard about Hope’s story, they jumped in to help through Go Baby Go. In April 2022, the students visited Cruces Creatives, a makerspace in Las Cruces, NM, to get started. 

The classmates were excited to help Hope and to make their community a better place. Together, they worked to build the mobility car. They personalized it to Hope and what she needed from a mobility aid, engineered it, made it comfortable, and added touches to let Hope control her movements. The car comes with a customized seat, a blue exterior with pictures of baseball, and her name on the front in pink. 

Hope received her car in early April and absolutely loves the freedom it brings to her life! Her family is so excited to see what newfound joy and freedom Hope brings – and the Lynn Community Middle School sixth graders are happy to have made a positive change. 

What is Trisomy 18?

Trisomy 18, also known as Edwards syndrome, is a chromosomal condition caused by meiotic disjunction, an error in cell division. This causes individuals to be born with a third chromosome 18, as opposed to the normal pair. This disrupts development, causing life-threatening abnormalities throughout the body. According to the Trisomy 18 Foundation, only around 50% of babies with Trisomy 18 who are carried to term will be born alive. Female infants are more likely to be born alive than male infants. 

Trisomy 18 is often fatal before birth or within the first few months of life. However, some children may live years and, in a smaller amount of cases, even into their 20s or 30s. Those who live beyond this often have severe intellectual disabilities. Other symptoms and characteristics associated with Trisomy 18 include:

  • Slow growth before birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Severe learning or intellectual disabilities
  • Frequent lung and urinary tract infections
  • Congenital heart defects
  • A small, abnormally shaped head with a small jaw and mouth
  • Low-set ears
  • Smooth feet with rounded soles
  • A cleft lip and palate
  • Long, overlapping fingers with underdeveloped thumbs and clenched fists
  • Stomach wall hernias
  • Feeding problems and poor growth
  • Heart, kidney, and bone abnormalities

Learn more about Trisomy 18

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn

Jessica Lynn has an educational background in writing and marketing. She firmly believes in the power of writing in amplifying voices, and looks forward to doing so for the rare disease community.

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