Part of WNY STEM Hub and AT&T open wheelchair building workshops program
Ongoing partnership between WNY STEM Hub and AT&T teaches area students to design and fabricate motorized open wheelchairs for children Anchor
More than 25 student participants from the WNY STEM Hub and AT&T open wheelchair building workshops program were joined by executives from WNY STEM HUB and AT&T at the Health Sciences Charter School to present a local young boy a new motorized wheelchair the students designed, built and donated to help him live a more mobile life.
Easton Jordan of Orchard Park, the boy who received the new motorized wheelchair, was joined by his family, and got to meet with the students who designed and built the motorized wheelchair that was customized just for him. The students even went above and beyond by designing, fabricating and 3-D printing a specialized footplate especially for Easton per his mother’s wish, which acts as adaptive device to assist Easton when lifting his body to stand from his chair because his toes tend to slip off a traditional foot plate.
The building workshops program is made up of students from “Hand in Hand Powered by AT&T,” the free STEM camp for public school students that teaches students how to design and manufacture 3-D prosthetic hands for children in need; and students from the Buffalo Urban League and the Health Sciences Charter School. Ranging 13-17 in age, the students have been working together during weekends to design and create motorized open wheelchairs that utilize innovative new technology to provide a customized, low-cost, lightweight and easy-to-operate motorized pediatric wheelchair designed specifically for a child who is in need. The wheelchairs the students are making are designed to help increase mobility and independence for youths who receive them.
Students of the building workshops continue to gain digital literacy while learning about and building additional motorized wheelchairs that will be donated to children in need in the near future. The program utilizes the Open Wheelchair Foundation curriculum and manufacturing designs for the STEM workshops. Both the foundation and this local STEM program’s shared goal is to bring free motorized wheelchairs to the world so that anyone can experience the joy of mobility, no matter their physical state or economic status.
“The WNY STEM Hub and AT&T open wheelchair building workshops program was designed not only to teach students about technology and applying their learning to design and create solutions, but also to experience the joy of helping others in the local community,” said Simone Ragland, director, WNY STEM Hub. “By engaging with the recipient of the motorized wheelchair they built, the students better understand and embrace the positive impact their work and technology can have on the life of a child.”
“AT&T is once again proud to collaborate with the WNY STEM Hub to provide an extraordinary opportunity for local students to learn and see firsthand how technology can be used to create life-changing solutions for those who live with disabilities and ailments, while gaining the digital literacy needed to compete in the global innovation economy,” said Kevin Hanna, director, external affairs, AT&T. “It is inspiring and heartwarming to see the student’s dedication and complete focus on the details to make sure they could provide the best possible wheelchair for Easton, and they should all be very proud of what they accomplished.”
The building workshops program is an extension of “Hand in Hand Powered by AT&T,” the signature project of the WNY STEM Hub, which launched in 2017. It was initiated to help underserved students develop technical, medical, leadership skills, service learning and disability awareness through a social action project that significantly impacts the lives of others, while demonstrating firsthand how technology can be used for social good. AT&T, lead partner and collaborator in both, said it is “committed to connecting today’s learners with the skills, resources, technology and opportunities for success in school and in life.” Last week, the company announced it will invest $2 billion over the next three years to help address the digital divide and homework gap.