A high school class called "Making for Social Good" where students design products that'll have a positive social impact made the "WheeStroll" for the King family.
A group of 10 students from Bullis High School in Potomac, Maryland, have designed a wheelchair stroller to allow a father to walk with his newborn son. Jeremy King, 37, has impaired mobility on account of surgery for a brain tumor that changed how well he could balance. While he can walk, he cannot do it while holding a child safely. So when he and his wife Chelsie, 32, found out that they were expecting a child in June last year, they were concerned about how they would be able to take on the challenge of moving around with the baby.
A group of 10 high school students made it possible for a father with impaired mobility to walk with his newborn son. https://t.co/gxQmStUg7u— Good Morning America (@GMA) July 16, 2021
"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," Chelsie explained to Good Morning America. So Chelsie turned to her colleague at Bullis High where she works as a drama teacher and adviser. Her colleague, Matt Zigler, teaches a high school class called "Making for Social Good" where students design products that'll have a positive social impact. The Kings' request perfectly lined up with the essence of the class. He told his students to try and come up with something to help the King family.
Today on News4 at 5… meet the award winning @BullisSchool students who designed & created a device to help one of their teachers & her husband who’s in a wheelchair… get around w/ their new baby boy. @nbcwashington #STEMeducation #STEM pic.twitter.com/vOKPdS0CP2— Shawn Yancy (@ShawnYancyTV) July 7, 2021
The students took up the assignment with enthusiasm and jumped into creating the perfect solution. "The idea of the course is to start out by trying to understand the problem, so we did interviews with the family," Zigler explained. "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." They were thorough with their research to ensure the product they came up with would have the best utility for the King family and to get a better understanding of their needs.
“It was difficult but it wasn’t impossible,” Ibenka Espinoza, 17, an eighth-grader said. Espinoza had a group that joined forces with the group of a Bullis senior, Jacob Zlotnitsky. "We both made a design. And it turned out that both of our designs if we combined it together, we’d make like, a superior design," Zlotnitsky told NBC Washington. They revised the design to perfection and came up with the "WheeStroll." One of the students on the design team explained, “Mr. King would put in the attachment piece. Next, you’d get the car seat and put it into the attachment piece. And then next you would buckle the baby in.”
‘An incredible gift’: Students invent wheelchair stroller for teacher’s husband https://t.co/R8eDGdVEuQ— TODAY (@TODAYshow) July 10, 2021
This design won two awards: the “Best Inspirational Story” and the “Best Showcase of Iterative Design” for the 14-18 age group at the PrintLab 2021 make:able design challenge. "Just being able to see Jeremy have that independence with our son was something really incredible," Chelsie told TODAY. "Parenting can be really scary for anybody, but we had a set of challenges ahead of us that we're still navigating as our son grows. ... It's really special to be able to get outside and share a walk together as a family, so the gratitude that we both felt having it dropped off and being able to use it going forward has been just a really incredible gift."
Zigler was also proud of the outcome and added, "This has been the most successful of the projects that we've done in the three years that I've taught this class, and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that it was somebody in our community and so the students were really motivated to just keep trying and keep testing out different ideas and design and redesign...I think the fact that the students knew it was going to be used, made it more real for them, and they knew because it was going to be used, it had to be good."