RUSSELLVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Four-year-old Sloan Hellums can do pretty much anything on her own, according to her mother Lauren Hellums.
“She puts on her own socks, she puts toothpaste on her own toothbrush, she was peeling her own bananas at less than two” Hellums said.
Sloan has a limb difference, which means she doesn’t have a hand on her left arm.
While she is very capable of doing things on her own, she will soon get some assistance in the form of a 3-D prosthetic arm.
“This will just give her the opportunity to do things that you and I are able to do with two hands that we don’t even realize,” said Sloan’s mom.
A group of three eighth-grade girls at Russellville Middle School have taken on the challenge of designing and building the 3-D printed device.
“They took the idea, and they just ran with it,” Hellums said.
The students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) class taught by Lee Brownwell, chose the project on their own.
They’ve spent every class since the start of the Spring semester learning how to design, program, and print with 3-D printers.
So far, they’ve printed two prototypes of Sloan’s prosthetic arm. After the first attempt, they made some changes.
“We realized it needed to be smaller and lighter because it was way too heavy,” said Ansley Willis.
The prototypes have been printed with pink, purple, and orange filament. Sloan picked those colors herself.
“I chose orange for Auburn,” Sloan said while sitting on her mom’s lap.
The final version of the prosthetic arm will be printed with a more heavy-duty material.
The three students working on the project, Willis, Wendy Barriento, and Kloee Warren, said they have enjoyed bringing to life the project, which could make a difference in Sloan’s life.
“We’re honestly trying to make Sloan’s life easier,” Willis said. “She’s so sweet and she deserves the same opportunities as everybody else.”
Sloan is very excited about the possibility of being able to use two hands to hold her food.
“She tells people the very first thing she’s going to do with her prosthesis is what?” Hellums said while holding Sloan.
“Eat pizza!” Sloan replied.
News 19 asked Sloan what kind of pizza is her favorite. She said “pepperoni!”.
This is the first year Russellville Middle School has offered a STEM class, where different groups of students work on different projects.
It seems to already be making a difference in the community.
“Is there anything you want to tell them?” Hellums said while pointing at the three students.
Sloan replied, “thank you.”
“That makes me want to cry,” Hellums said.