Help This Teacher 3D Print Assistive Fitness Equipment for Disabled Children

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3dp_overcomer_ Kabes

[Photo: Shawn Dowd, D&C]

As a former personal trainer and current physical fitness teacher at Schlegel Road Elementary School in Webster, New York, Joe Kabes understands the important role of play activity for the healthy development of children. Throughout the six years that he’s been teaching, he’s seen the school’s disabled student population increase and watched at his new students struggle with participating alongside their able-bodied peers. Kabes struggles to help his special needs students participate, though there don’t seem to be a lot of equipment options available for them.

Despite not being an engineer, Kabes felt that he had no choice but to try and build something that could help engage his special needs students in more physical activity by himself. Over a period of several months he spent his evenings alone in his garage trying to turn a pile of materials purchased from a hardware store into assistive devices. He came up with a physical activity system that he calls The Overcomer. It consists of a plastic frame that can be attached to several different types of assistive devices, including wheelchairs, walkers and even braces and gait trainers.3dp_overcomer_net_attachment

The Overcomer system includes a variety of gaming and sports attachments that allow his special needs students to finally participate, and he made them to be easily changed from one activity to the next. The attachments include object control rings that help with games that use balls, a bowling ramp, striking devices for hockey or golf, a push-pull sled that allows kids to move objects around like a bulldozer, and a basketball hoop. The Overcomer can also have resistance equipment attached to it so students can participate in weight training activities. Unfortunately, if Kabes wants to share The Overcomer with the world he’s going to need some help starting his business as, shocking as it may sound, a physical education teacher’s salary does not include the budget to launch a consumer product.

3dp_overcomer_control_ring“In physical education, when there’s individuals in wheelchairs and things like that, it presents challenges trying to have them be as included as the general population. Most individuals take for granted the ability to kick a soccer ball or to dribble a basketball. I am a physical educator and personal trainer by trade, so my area of expertise is in how to physically train the body, not mechanical engineering. This venture and starting a business has taken me out of my comfort zone to say the least,” Kabes told Rochester, New York newspaper the Democrat and Chronicle.

3dp_overcomer_walker_deviceIn order to help start his new business, Kabes has launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise the necessary funds. He is looking to collect $30,000 to help pay for patents and legal fees–and to develop 3D printed prototypes. While his handmade versions work, they are not perfect, and if a product is going to be mass produced for children, then he is going to need to further develop the attachments to verify that they will fit properly. He is also going to need to make sure that they are durable enough to stand up to repeated use, and the aesthetics are also going to be important. Kabes will also need to have 3D printed prototypes to try and attract investors and venture capitalists.

“I was invited to showcase The Overcomer at the Games for the Physically Challenged this past Friday. I was able to make some great connections and see some amazing athletes! We have had inquiries from local news channels and will hopefully have a spot on a radio show. We are blessed to have businesses offering their services to help make this mission a reality! Our next steps are to have 3D prototypes made to take to a manufacturer. We need to see how much molds will be for each piece. This is the most expensive step in the process,” Kabes explained on his GoFundMe page.3dp_overcomer_bowling_ramp

Here is a video about how the devices that Kabes made are already helping his students:

Kabes intends to make The Overcomer available for both adults and children, and wants to make sure that they can be adjusted to suit each individual user. The devices can be used is al kind of settings, not just for physical education. Kabes envisions them being used at home, in hospital settings, physical therapy and rehab facilities and special needs recreation centers. Currently he’s raised about $7,500 of his goal, so if you want to help him bring the gift of physical education to kids with special needs, go to his GoFundMe page and help him out.  Discuss this story in the 3D Printed Assistive Fitness Equipment Forum thread on 3DPB.com.

 

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