When Sergio Peralta arrived as a new student at Tennessee's Hendersonville High School last fall, he tried to hide his right hand in his sleeve. The 15-year-old was born without a fully formed hand, of which he was embarrassed, and hoped "nobody would ever find out," he tells CBS News. He had no idea that his new peers would be eager to assist. "They ended up offering me, like, 'We could build your prosthetic hand', and I never expected it," he says. "Like, never in a million years."
A teacher in the engineering program, Jeff Wilkins, first suggested that students could use online models and a 3D printer to craft a robotic hand for Sergio. It made sense. "You're supposed to be engineering, coming up with new ideas, solving issues, and just making things better than how they used to be," student Leslie Jaramillo tells WTVF. Leslie and two other students spent roughly a month designing, printing, and sizing the prototype for Sergio. Then it was time for a test using a simple game of catch.
For the first time, Sergio was able to grasp a ball in his right hand. The achievement "is a testament to the students we have here who care about each other and the program that Jeff Wilkins has built," school principal Bob Cotter tells the BBC. For Sergio, it "changed my life," he tells WTVF. "I actually feel like I have a right hand," which is "pretty cool" after "living without a hand for 15 years." He's grateful to have had his hand exposed to the helpful students after all. In an added bonus: "I got to be friends with them," he says. (Read more uplifting news stories.)