For the able-bodied, it can be so easy to take small, everyday tasks for granted — especially when one has a new baby.
Newborns can make life incredibly challenging for the most physically fit; it’s an entirely different ballgame for disabled parents.
This was the challenge faced by Jeremy and Chelsie King, who found out they were expecting as Jeremy was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor that had made it difficult for him to balance at times.
“While he can walk, he can’t do so safely carrying a child,” Chelsie recently told “Good Morning America.” “So we jumped into, ‘OK, what do we need in order for him to parent safely?’ and honestly, not a whole lot came up — there’s just really not a ton of resources out there for disabled parents.”
Well, Chelsie happens to work at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, where high school students were enrolled in a class called the “Making for Social Good Course.” The course challenges the kids to find a need in the community and address it through innovation.
The Kings turned out to be just the community members for these high school students to help.
“The idea of the course is to start out by trying to understand the problem, so we did interviews with the family,” teacher Matt Zigler explained, according to The Western Journal.
“We talked to somebody at the local fire department who actually does infant car seat installation training to try to better understand how those things work,” he said.
The students began with 3D models of their prospective designs, and settled on the ones that seemed the most viable to be used as baby Phoenix grew up, not just for the newborn stage.
“The hardest part of the project was putting ourselves in the shoes of a person with physical disabilities,” Jacob Zlotnitsky, one of the students who worked on the project, told CNN. “To achieve a successful project we had to use empathy and really make sure we were thinking about everything a person with Mr. King’s disabilities would be forced to consider.”
“We wanted to make sure as the kids age out of the first solution, the parents would have a second solution they could use at that point,” he explained.
The students settled on two designs: the WheeStroll Wheelchair Stroller Attachment, which connects a car seat to dad’s wheelchair, and the WheeStroll Wheelchair Stroller Adapter, which attaches a whole stroller to the wheelchair using 3D-printed parts.
“It was certainly emotional seeing the process and everything that went into this,” Jeremy said of the process. “I really feel the students took all my concerns to heart when creating the prototypes.”
“Using it was overwhelming because I never thought I would be able to do something like this with our son,” he said. “Most people can go out on a walk with their family but that is really difficult for me — most people take that for granted.”
“I love the idea that these students got this project and it’ll be something long lasting,” said Chelsie. “I know that they’ll remember that for years to come, which is all you can hope for as an educator.”
It is wonderful to see teachers and students take education so much further than simply learning what they need to pass a test. What a great experience for these kids’ to learn about and connect with someone who had a real need, and apply their skills towards creating something they can not only be proud of, but has the potential to truly help someone whose needs may not often be considered by society at large.
If you appreciate the work we are doing for faith, family, and freedom, please consider a small donation to help us continue. Thank you so much!