Children's Hospital Los Angeles program CATCH celebrates children with hand differences

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Johnny Maldonado shows off his 3D printed hand while attending a holiday party for the CATCH program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles on Friday, Dec. 11, 2015.

A unique program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles is helping kids deal with physical challenges they face by bringing children together to support each other.

Johnny Maldonado has conquered much adversity in his six short years.

He was born with what doctors call a tiny hand.

Johnny had two surgeries to separate his fingers and make them more functional.

But how his hand works is not the issue, it's how it sometimes makes him feel when people stare.

"Kids are curious when they do see him," Daniel Maldonado, Johnny's father said. "They do ask him questions and they're just curious. They just want to know why his hand is like that."

On Thursday, the CHLA threw a holiday party with the theme "You Can Do Anything" and children and families came together to celebrate their hand differences through the CATCH program.

The group started when Dr. Nina Lightdale realized surgery isn't the only thing a child needs to heal.

"It takes care of the whole child and brings them up in a community that believes in them and makes them feel that they are without limits," Lightdale said.

Having a child with a hand difference can be quite troubling for a child's confidence and inspiration, especially during the child's formative years.

Experts said families having a program that pair children up with others who have similar hand differences can be quite empowering.

"Their self-confidence comes from being inspired and having dreams. The program here believes in these children's dreams," Lightdale said.

Last Christmas, Johnny was thrilled to get this 3D printed hand, but as he opened some of his presents this year he had to take it off.

He's now realizing his own hand can be even more awesome than his 3D printed hand.
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