A team of high schoolers built a device that allows people in wheelchairs to walk their babies

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By Alaa Elassar, CNN

For galore parents, taking their babies connected a locomotion oregon cradling them to slumber is simply a blessing that’s casual to instrumentality for granted. But for Jeremy King, it’s thing helium feared helium would ne'er beryllium capable to do.

That was until a radical of precocious schoolhouse students successful Maryland designed and built a wheelchair stroller attachment truthful that radical with disabilities could locomotion their babies.

The thought was calved erstwhile students astatine Bullis School, a backstage K-12 schoolhouse successful Potomac, discovered that 1 of their teachers was expecting a baby, and her husband, who had impaired mobility, whitethorn ne'er beryllium capable to locomotion his ain child.

In 2017, Chelsie King, a 32-year-old middle-school theatre teacher astatine Bullis, had been engaged to her now-husband Jeremy King, 37, for lone 3 months earlier they discovered helium had a encephalon tumor. That October, helium underwent an eight-hour country to region it, and was near with a fig of challenges, including an inability to balance. He was a caregiver anesthetist who had traveled to Africa for aesculapian missions earlier the surgery.

Three years later, erstwhile Jeremy discovered they were going to person a baby, helium couldn’t incorporate his excitement — followed by changeless worries of however helium would beryllium capable to assistance parent, oregon adjacent instrumentality portion successful the joyousness of taking his babe for a walk.

“It was an contiguous concern,” Jeremy said successful a statement. “I was precise acrophobic with the information of myself and our kid particularly with Chelsie having to perchance enactment some of us. It played connected my caput perpetually which is wherefore it was important for america to find things to help.”

So Chelsie reached retired to Matt Zigler, a chap pedagogue who runs the BITlab, the school’s originative lab, and teaches a people called “Making for Social Good.”

“We knew we were expecting successful March and I asked him if helium thought helium could physique thing for america arsenic a idiosyncratic favour and helium had the thought to propulsion this to his Making For Social Good people and I thought that was an astonishing idea,” Chelsie said successful a statement.

Zigler’s students instantly began moving connected the project, which they called the “WheeStroll.” They hoped to make thing that could not lone alteration Jeremy’s life, but the lives of millions of different radical surviving with akin challenges.

A task driven by empathy

Since the babe was expected to beryllium calved successful aboriginal March and the students began their task precocious November, they had astir 3 months to travel up with an thought and successfully execute it.

Jacob Zlotnitsky, 18, was 1 of the 10 students successful Zigler’s people who dedicated his wintertime semester to creating the WheeStroll. For Zlotnitsky, the task was much than a people duty — for that information of his elder year, it was his purpose.

Zlotnitsky and his classmates began by brainstorming assorted ways to alteration the wheelchair into a instrumentality that could either accommodate a babe bearer oregon stroller.

The task began with much questions than ideas: Does Jeremy unrecorded successful an country with sidewalks? What benignant of terrain does helium usage his wheelchair on? Were determination ramps to assistance him determination around? What benignant of upwind would helium beryllium taking the babe retired in?

“The hardest portion of the task was putting ourselves successful the shoes of a idiosyncratic with carnal disabilities,” Zlotnitsky, who is present heading to Boston University, told CNN. “To execute a palmy task we had to usage empathy and truly marque definite we were reasoning astir everything a idiosyncratic with Mr. King’s disabilities would beryllium forced to consider.”

After interviewing the expecting couple, the students learned that their instrumentality would person to conscionable 3 plan requirements: It had to beryllium safe, casual to maneuver, and thing Jeremy would beryllium capable to connect and detach without assistance from anyone else.

The instrumentality was tested with Jeremy earlier the babe was born, and the students continued to adhd much information features and tiny adjustments.

After weeks of proceedings and error, the students successfully created 2 designs: the WheeStroll Wheelchair Stroller Attachment, which uses a metallic operation attachment to link a car spot to a wheelchair, and the WheeStroll Wheelchair Stroller Adapter, which uses 3D-printed parts to connect an full stroller to a wheelchair.

The WheeStroll Wheelchair Stroller Adapter is meant to beryllium utilized erstwhile the babe gets older and tin nary longer acceptable successful a car seat, according to Zigler.

“We wanted to marque definite arsenic the kids property retired of the archetypal solution, the parents would person a 2nd solution they could usage astatine that point,” helium said.

Appreciating the elemental things successful life

Phoenix King was calved connected March 4. By then, the WheeStroll was conscionable days distant from being perfected.

“It was truly affectional for america to spot it completed,” Chelsie said. “Our lad was a week aged erstwhile Matt delivered the last merchandise to america and to cognize that we would beryllium capable to usage it truthful soon aft our lad was calved is conscionable a truly beauteous thought.”

Soon enough, Jeremy was capable to locomotion Phoenix from the information and comfortableness of his wheelchair — thing helium feared helium would ne'er beryllium capable to do.

“It was a precise affectional acquisition due to the fact that I ne'er thought I would beryllium capable to bash thing safely similar taking a locomotion with my child,” Jeremy said. “It has allowed maine to acquisition things that I would not person been capable to bash earlier having the WheeStroll. It allows america arsenic a household to person much state of movement.”

While the Kings accidental it tin beryllium casual arsenic parents to fto the elemental blessings successful beingness spell unrecognized, they couldn’t beryllium much grateful for each infinitesimal they stock with their baby.

“It has fixed america the quality to bash thing elemental similar instrumentality a locomotion arsenic a family. Something that a batch of families don’t person to deliberation doubly about,” Chelsie said.

“This country changed our lives drastically and we person worked precise hard to accept, larn and flooded those challenges but parenting is simply a full caller acceptable of challenges. Anything that tin assistance Jeremy consciousness assured arsenic a genitor is priceless to me.”

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the students were incapable to conscionable Jeremy and spot him usage their instrumentality successful person. Instead, Chelsie sent videos of Jeremy utilizing the WheeStroll to the precocious schoolers. Zigler said they were “so blessed and proud” to spot the alteration they were capable to make.

“It was specified a heartwarming moment,” Zlotnitsky said. “It felt truthful large to spot it and to cognize I changed a beingness and made a family’s beingness a small spot amended done thing I built. It’s brainsick to deliberation that’s a reality.”

Sharing their invention with the world

One of the astir important parts of the project, Zigler says, was making definite it was elemental and affordable capable to let different families with disabilities to recreate it for their ain use.

“We wanted to travel up with a plan that would beryllium easy repeatable for different radical with entree to basal tools,” Zigler said.

The last plan for the WheeStroll Wheelchair Stroller Attachment, which attaches a car spot to a wheelchair, requires elemental tools — totaling up to little than $100 — and an casual plan the people has shared online so anyone who needs it tin entree it.

The plan comes with instructions, a worldly list, and adjacent a video and photos showing the step-by-step process.

“I’m truthful blessed to assistance astatine slightest 1 household and if we tin assistance much by sharing our plan it would beryllium truly incredible.” Zlotnitsky said.

The WheeStroll Wheelchair Stroller Adapter, which is to beryllium utilized with a stroller erstwhile the babe grows up, is simply a small spot much analyzable since it requires a 3D printer, but is inactive easy created by anyone with entree to one.

Zigler says they program to upload the plan and acquisition database erstwhile they decorativeness investigating their options with Jeremy and cleanable their last product.

Until then, the precocious schoolhouse teacher volition proceed utilizing his people to assistance young radical admit their endowment and usage it to alteration peoples’ lives for the better.

“My people helps kids summation a designation that adjacent though they’re students, they tin travel up with ideas and person entree to tools and resources to marque a antithetic successful the world,” Zigler said. “It’s precise empowering for students to cognize they don’t person to hold 4 years of assemblage earlier they tin get retired into the satellite and assistance people.”

The squad won 2 planetary awards by the Make:able 3D Printing Challenge for their wheelchair project, including “Best Inspirational Story” and “Best Showcase of Iterative Design.”

“It made maine recognize what’s important successful life, and portion of that is benefiting our communities and being capable to empathize with others,” Zlotnitsky said. “I consciousness fortunate to person been capable to instrumentality a people that has allowed maine to marque a quality successful people’s lives.”

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