Kayla Arqueta says being able to play alongside her new friends in band has made her feel "normal"

By Rachel DeSantis
November 12, 2019 05:53 PM

A Texas middle schooler is thriving as a cellist after a group of dedicated high school students banded together to make her a prosthetic arm.

Kayla Arqueta was born without her left hand and part of her forearm, though that didn’t stop her from auditioning for the orchestra at Austin Middle School in Irving.

“Kayla came to our tryout night and she told me that she wanted to be in orchestra,” the school’s orchestra director Carly Addison said in a video produced by the school district.

Not discouraged, Addison took to Google, and found the story of a young man who’d learned to play the cello after he was given a prosthetic arm.

After realizing that the blueprints for the arm design were available for free online, Addison reached out to Nimitz High School engineering teacher Dwight Davison, whose classroom had recently acquired three 3D printers.

“He was like, what an awesome opportunity for Kayla, what an awesome opportunity for my students,” Addison recalled.

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With a group of volunteer students on board, the class began creating a design made especially for Kayla so that she’d be as comfortable as possible.

“Band is part of my life, and I have a family that I’ve made in band, and I love all of them,” student Arianna Tovar told KXAS of why she wanted to help Kayla. “I know she could make a family out of what she wants to do and if she has a passion to do it, I think she should go for it.”

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The engineering students’ design eventually proved successful, and they were able to print the prosthetic and outfit Kayla.

“You can see how empowered she’s been by being accepted and encouraged by all of the other musicians in her classroom,” Addison said in the video.

Kayla, meanwhile, has been thrilled with her band experience, and has already made new friends who she says make her “feel normal.”

“I learned that people are willing to help, and that it’s okay to be different,” she said. “I would like other students to know that life is challenging, but everyone is going to love you for who you are.”