Action Angels gives girl new voice

May 9, 2008 5:41:34 PM PDT
Cerebral palsy has taken the voice of an 11-year-old Houston girl. The nation heard her story on ABC's World News with Charlie Gibson. A gift from Action 13 Angels is helping her speak again.

"This gift will, without a doubt, change my life," 10-year-old Jemma Leech told us.

You might remember Jemma as ABC's Person of the Week. It was Jemma's prize winning prose that first caught our attention. The fact that she beat out 1,600 other youngsters to win a writing contest was all the more amazing because she did it by tapping a touch screen. She used a xylophone stick with her mom to steady her arm. It was slow and tedious.

You see, Jemma has cerebral palsy and even though it has robbed her body of function and speech, her creative mind is sharp and she loves to read and write.

What Jemma really needed was independence, so we called the Swedish makers of a new amazing device.

The $15,000 machine allows you to type with your eyes. It tracks what you want to spell and say by detecting the letters you look at. The Mytobii company wanted to give it to Jemma as an early birthday gift. "This wondrous machine will allow me to talk to my friends," she told us with the machine.

"I'm excited that we'll be able to talk easier now," said Jemma's friend, Allison Powers.

"I can write on the computer secretly," said Kristy Leech, Jemma's sister.

"She can do her conversations with her friends and share her secrets and all that so our work is just beginning," said Betsy Walker with Mytobii. "But it's really exciting."

Jemma picked up the pace quickly. And just like all other growing girls, no longer needs mom at every turn.

"Thank you to the general directors of Mytobi ATI for giving me this independence and voice, to Lori Reingold and the angels at Channel 13 for making this happen," said Jemma with her new voice.

If you know someone who needs this eye tracking machine, we have information here. And if you need help from an Action 13 angel, send us an email.


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