August 17, 2021 by Cathy Stack
Jeremy’s brain surgery drastically changed the couple’s lives. They have worked hard to learn and overcome the new challenges they faced. But they knew their upcoming parental roles would soon offer a whole new set of challenges. As the couple searched for a product that would address Jeremy’s unique needs, they could not find any on the market.
Chelsie, a middle-school teacher at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, decided to recruit the help of her colleague, head of technology lab Matt Zigler. She asked him if he could design something to attach to Jeremy’s wheelchair to allow him to hold their infant while on the go. Matt then had the fantastic idea of presenting the project to his students in his “making for social good” class. The class tasks students with designing socially impactful products.
The upper-class students were excited about their new project. They went straight to work, conducting virtual interviews with the family and the fire department to grasp the specific needs and exact safety requirements. The team then purchased or 3D-printed the parts they needed. They designed custom brackets and shaped aluminum Maker Pipe to secure the wheelchair and stroller together safely. When they needed a wheelchair for the prototype, they cleverly borrowed one from the school nurse. They called their perfected device the WheeStroll.
The WheeStroll was completed just in time for the birth of the couple’s child. A few weeks later, Jeremy proudly took his newborn, Phoenix, for a walk using the pram-wheelchair hybrid. The grateful couple say the device works and is customized perfectly to fit their needs.
“Being able to see Jeremy have some independence with our son is a gift,” said Chelsie.
“It was really emotional for us to see it completed,” recalled Jeremy. He was elated at how much the device increased his independence with his child.
When asked what the best part about coming up with the successful design was, student Benjamin Gordon said, “Just to see the smile on his (Jeremy’s) face and just to know that I was able to help give him that connection to his child that he otherwise wouldn’t be able to have because of his disability.”
The students’ unique design won two international design awards.
PassItOn and The Foundation For A Better Life believe that this talented team of 10 high school students are true heroes. Their actions are a wonderful example of the value of innovation. They accepted a difficult challenge and then combined their passion and creativity to invent a device that will improve the quality of life for many disabled individuals. Please help us celebrate them by sharing their inspiring story.
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