A group of students at a high school in Potomac, MD recently won two international awards for designing a device that allows for people in wheelchairs the ability to attach a baby seat to their wheelchairs to go for a walk.
Although the awards were international, the idea helped someone close to them.
Chelsie King, a middle school teacher at Bullis, is incredibly thankful for what the students were able to accomplish for her husband. She says three years ago, her husband Jeremy underwent brain surgery that affected him in numerous ways, including difficulty with balance. As a result, Jeremy relies on a wheelchair.
The couple then started a family but quickly realized it would be more difficult for them to care for their baby due to Jeremy's physical challenges.
So, then when we found out we were expecting, we kind of immediately jumped into ‘OK, how he is going to do certain things for our baby that normal parents don’t have to think about?’ And one of the things that we really couldn’t find was a way to enjoy walks with our son," Chelsie told NBC Washington.
Chelsie and Jeremy looked across the Internet for help with this task, but didn't find anything that would help them out. Specifically, they were looking for something that Jeremy could use without needing help. But then Chelsie realized that there is a program at the school where she teaches that might help her out.
Matt Zigler, head of the school's Innovation Technology Lab, teaches a class that helps design things for social good. Chelsie reached out to him with the task.
"It seemed sort of the perfect challenge for this class. One, it was great to have it as a challenge, but two, it was great that it was somebody in our community that could benefit from it," Zigler said.
So his class of high school students went after it, working on multiple designs and ideas and ultimately combining them into something that would be perfect for Jeremy, or anyone like him.
The result is what the students call the "WheeStroll" which is a wheelchair attachment that also serves as a baby car seat holder.
"To see the smile on his face and to know that I was able to help give him that connection with his child that he wouldn’t be able to have because of his disabilities," said one of the students who worked on the WheeStroll.
The design was even entered in the 2021 make:able challenge where it won two awards: "Best Inspirational Story" and "Best Showcase of Iterative Design" in the 14-18 age group.