Tuesday Rose-Hulman students helped a little girl’s dream come true with a one-of-a-kind swimming device.
There wasn’t a dry eye at Rose-Hulman’s pool as 3-year-old Kala Steiner got the dream of a lifetime.
“She was just so into it,” her father, Ryan Steiner said. “Screaming and happy, and the water just made her so excited.”
Kala was born to swim.
Every time she gets in water, it is pure bliss. But that wasn’t always the case.
Kala was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and autism which made swimming difficult.
“So it makes it hard a lot of times to find things that help the cerebral palsy but isn’t restrictive with the autism, which is why we needed something so specially tailored to her, to allow her to learn and relax in the water and feel safe,” Steiner said.
Tuesday night she showed off the new device custom made just for her.
“The first time she really didn’t kick her legs, she didn’t know that that would make her move,” Steiner said. “So, I reached down and grabbed her feet and showed her that she could kick. Today, when we got in the pool, she was chasing me. She was kicking and following me with it.”
The device was designed and built by four female Rose-Hulman students, three of them just freshmen.
“Personally, think it was wild that I was making a device to help somebody already,” Rose-Hulman freshman Carla Archuleta said.
The flotation device allows Kala to move freely in the pool kicking, splashing and enjoying the water safely.
It even has remote control lights that change color.
“She really liked to use the product,” Rose-Hulman sophomore Youhua Lu said. ” I think my effort is being paid off.”
“The device can actually improve her swimming abilities and now she is actually enjoying swimming a lot,” Rose-Hulman freshman Yiging Li said.
The Steiners are grateful for the students and the device that let Kala swim her dream.
“If they are doing something like this and touching our lives in their first year, the sky’s the limit, right kid?” Steiner said.
Kala will be able to use the device as she gets older, and hopefully one day swim on her own.
As for the students, they are still deciding what their next project should be.