Maryland students invent wheelchair stroller for teacher’s husband
Several high school students in Maryland have won two international awards after developing a wheelchair-accessible stroller for their teacher’s husband.
The 10 students at Bullis High School in Potomac, Maryland, have developed two products that allow a person in a wheelchair to walk their child in a stroller. The first product, designed for newborns and young children, attaches a car seat to a wheelchair, and the second, created for older children, uses 3D printed equipment to attach a stroller to a wheelchair. -even.
Chelsie King, whose husband Jeremy had “significant balance problems” following surgery to remove a brain tumor three years ago, said TODAY she spoke to her fellow teacher Matt Zigler of developing a product that would allow Jeremy to walk their child when she found out they were expecting.
“Over the past few years we’ve kind of sailed into its new adaptability and last summer when we found out we expected this to introduce a whole new set of challenges,” King said. . “Parenting is hard enough, but when you have a physical disability, especially one that is still fairly recent… We immediately started researching ways to make parenting accessible to Jeremy, and honestly, we did. didn’t find much. . “
King said she quickly thought of Zigler’s “Making for Social Good” course, which focuses on designing products that benefit society as a whole. Zigler said the class schedule aligned “almost exactly” with King’s due date.
“It’s amazing,” Zigler said. “This was the most successful of the projects we have done in the three years I have been teaching this class, and I think a lot of it was because he was someone from our community and so the students were really motivated to keep trying and testing different ideas, designing and redesigning … I think the fact that the students knew it was going to be used, made it more real to them, and they knew it because it was going to be used, it had to be good. “
A student in the class, Ibenka Espinoza, told TODAY that she was delighted to help the teacher she had known from middle school.
“I was like, ‘I have to help Ms. King,’” Espinoza said. “I heard a lot of wonderful things about her, and I wasn’t that close to her but… I heard other people say how wonderful she is and how very uplifting she is and gives off happy vibes. Immediately I just had to find something to help him. “
King said she and her husband were able to start using the wheelchair car seat attachment a few days after their son was born.
“Just being able to see Jeremy have this independence with our son was something really amazing,” King said. “Being a parent can be really scary for everyone, but we had a set of challenges ahead of us that we continue to face as our son gets older.… It’s really special to be able to go out and share a walk together as a family, so the gratitude we both felt for depositing it and being able to use it in the future has been a truly amazing gift. “
The class went on to win two awards at the Make: able 3D Printing Challenge 2021, an international competition Zigler said he took part in earlier this year. The challenge focused on developing a product for someone with mobility issues, making it the ideal solution for the project with Kings.
Jewel Walker, who has worked with some classmates on the car seat attachment product, said it was an honor to be recognized by the competition while having a big impact on King’s family.
“It’s great, because you’ve seen the hard work you put into the project pay off, and you’ve made a difference in someone’s life,” Walker said. “That’s all one can ask for. It’s great to see that we put everything in there and that we really see him succeeding, doing really well and making a difference.”
Jacob Zlotnitsky, who worked with Espinoza and several other students to develop the wheelchair stroller product, said he was much more invested in the project than most other assignments.
“It’s pretty rewarding, to say the least,” Zlotnitsky said. “In high school, you take a lot of classes and you don’t get much out of it other than what you learn from those classes that you will build on next year, but in this class and through this project, I was able to help someone, which is not something you are usually able to do in a high school class. “
Zigler said he had previously received inquiries about the project from other people with disabilities: A parent of a military veteran with a new child recently called him to ask for information on making the project. one or the other of the models. Both products were designed not to be expensive to make at home using a 3D printer, and Zigler said he’s compiling instructions and a video that will help people build them.
“It will be new territory for us,” Zigler said. “… It will be interesting if over time we keep getting requests and some of these students come back to the lab to build another one.” “