Robotics team crafts kitchenette for Lincoln Township girl
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Robotics team crafts kitchenette for Lincoln Township girl

Jul 05, 2023

Rosie Adams, 5, plays with her mini-adaptive kitchen on July 21 at her home in Lincoln Township. The Creative Works Technologies Robotics Team recently completed and donated the kitchen to Rosie, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at 6 months old.

LINCOLN TOWNSHIP — A local robotics team has spent the past few months creating a kitchenette for a Lincoln Township girl with cerebral palsy.

Rosemary “Rosie” Adams, 5, was only 6 months old when she was diagnosed with the disorder that affects her ability to move.

Laura Gomez, Rosie’s mother, said she’s a very smart and inquisitive girl – who is also nonverbal – but gets bored often in her wheelchair. Rosie often plays with a grocery hand basket with fake food, so Gomez wanted to get more kitchen-related things for her daughter. She said her favorite item is a toy carton of eggs.

“Everyday for the last few years she goes through it and throws all the little food toys on the ground,” Gomez said.

Most of the insurance-approved items they get is medical equipment, so Gomez reached out to the Buy Nothing St. Joseph Facebook group in the interest of getting things for Rosie to play with. The group is used to give and donate items to a person who may need it.

“If you don’t ask for help, you don’t get anything,” Gomez said.

Amy Torres, a member of the group, expressed interest in having her son’s robotics team help out. She said the robotics team often looks for opportunities to help the community in their offseason.

“There was a mom in a Facebook group looking for used kitchen sets, things that she could try to adapt for her daughter,” Torres said.

Commercially available kitchen sets do not work for Rosie, Gomez said. Her daughter tends to put her legs and feet on things and push them over. The plastic sets would not be stable enough, Gomez said, as she needs a set that could fit the width of her wheelchair.

Rosie Adams, 5, plays with her mini-adaptive kitchen on July 21 at her Lincoln Township home.

Torres’ son enlisted his robotics team, Creative Works Technologies Robotics Team, which consists of high school students from various Berrien County schools. The team includes students from Bridgman, Coloma, Michigan Lutheran, Our Lady of the Lake and Watervliet schools. Torres said about three quarters of the robotics team is comprised of students with disabilities.

“Helping other challenged kids is near to our hearts,” Torres said.

Five mentors and seven students spent a significant amount of time working on Rosie’s personalized kitchenette.

Whirlpool Corp. Electrical Engineer Melissa Burchill and LECO Corp. Product Engineer Kevin Russell, who are the main mentors of the team, said there were an additional five students that helped with brainstorming.

“The most difficult part of the process was having a clear vision of what we wanted the kitchenette to be in the end, and then trying to coordinate the work with multiple students and mentors with different schedules,” Burchill said.

The CW Tech Robotarians were able to meet Rosie before they began creating the kitchen set.

They first met in November 2022, but were not able to begin the process of Rosie’s kitchenette until January 2023. Gomez said that meeting allowed her to explain Rosie’s condition to the team. The robotarians even attended her birthday party earlier this year.

Burchill said they were able to work part time on the kitchenette during competition season, which runs from January to March. The bulk of the work was done in March and April, and was divided up among the students and mentors.

"We're one of the very unusual robotics teams." — Amy Torres, mother of robotics team member

“Several of the students brainstormed ideas of what the kitchenette should look like,” Burchill said. “One of the students got started on the preliminary design, and our marketing mentor procured the basic cabinetry that we planned to modify.”

Toward the last few weeks of completing the kitchenette, Burchill said one mentor and a few team members would meet to do the final touches. One of the mentors helped add the buttons and speaker to the kitchenette, giving it “flair.” When Rosie presses the buttons, they make various cooking sounds.

Eight months after their first contact with Rosie, the robotics team completed the kitchenette and installed it in her home.

Gomez said Rosie enjoys her new kitchenette, especially the buttons. One of the unique additions to the kitchenette was the raisers, so the kitchenette can be adjusted while she grows.

Rosie Adams, 5, plays with her mini-adaptive kitchen, featuring buttons with sound effects, on July 21 at her home in Lincoln Township.

Since the robotics team began 15 years ago, they have been one of the few entirely self-funded teams in Michigan.

“We’re one of the very unusual robotics teams,” Torres said.

She said the students on the team are responsible for getting sponsorships from local businesses. The team were able to get all of the products used in Rosie’s kitchen set donated.

“The students do presentations about robotics and our team to individuals and businesses as part of the fundraising effort,” Burchill said.

A majority of the donations were made by Earl’s Towing and Salvage in Niles. Torres said the cabinets, countertops and a few appliances on Rosie’s kitchen came from Earl’s. Among the donated appliances were a sink and a refrigerator door. The team was able to get a toy stove top that they removed from a discarded kitchen toy set. Additionally, the team was able to make the buttons 10 times larger than they originally anticipated. Some of the team’s general funds were used to complete the kitchenette as well.

Within their recent competition season, students must design, build and compete with their robot.

The CW Tech Robotarians work out of a warehouse in Benton Harbor, a space which was donated by Ausco Products. This was the location where the kitchen set was built before being installed in Rosie’s home.

For more information about the CW Tech Robotarians team, visit their Facebook page.

Contact: [email protected]