MERIDIAN - For parents, it might be a scary thought the first time seeing your child behind the wheel of a car. But, that wasn't the case Saturday in Meridian where toddlers with special needs felt what it was like to be independent - some for the first time.
Kamila Tello just turned 2-years-old and thanks to the Go Baby Go Program, she's trucking along!
Doctors feared she might not make it through the pregnancy but now she's gaining strength with each passing day.
"It was unreal, she was unrecognizable when she came out," said Fernando Tello, Kamila's father. "She was purple."
An excess amount of fluid in the womb during the pregnancy stunted Kamila's growth. As a result, she was born not being able to hear and her muscles haven't developed enough for her to be able to walk yet.
The Meridian girl was one of several children who benefitted from the hands on program at St. Luke's.
Students from Boise State University in the Society of Women Engineers Club were there to help families assemble battery-operated, "mini-convertibles" that made being mobile a possibility for kids with special needs. They were specifically designed for kids, like Kamila, with disabilities who might have a bit of a tough time getting around on their own.
"It [the design] simplifies it for them so that they are able to do something that they wouldn't normally be able to do," said Laura Rill, a mechanical engineering student at BSU.
Once strapped in, Kamila took the car for a spin.
"It's really cool to be a part of something just bigger than yourself and be able to help people in a way that utilizes everything that we've been learning," Rill said.
Kamila's parents say all the physical therapy they do and extra work they put in with her at home is paying off.
"We're hoping that she is okay for the rest of her life. And, whatever comes our way, we can overcome it together," Tello said. "She's a strong baby, and we're just glad she's here with us."
The families got to take the battery-operated cars home with them.
Fernando Tello is so impressed with the experience that as a small business owner he plans on raising funds to support next year's Go Baby Go Program.