Most teenagers have two things in common: a love for electronic communication devices — and a need to keep them close for ‘talking,’ which turns into a constant organizational battle as they are ultimately left somewhere, dropped, or lost. An affinity for most new electronic and high-tech innovations can generally be assured as well, and a group of students in Utah proved that they have some mad 3D design and 3D printing skills, inestimable kindness and care for their fellow students, and independent spirit in invention.
The delight shared by one special high school senior in communicating became that of the entire group, expressed with a gift only their MakerBot 3D printer could bring to fruition so quickly.
From writing notes to texting to even — gasp — talking, all kids want to use their devices and have them at their sides. For an inspirational youth — and a heartwarming group of friends who want to hear him communicate as much as possible — the iPad is the tool of choice — and it is truly Jeremy Dixon’s voice. The app provided by his iPad is more than just a peripheral way to express thoughts and reach out during the day — it is a way for him to expand beyond the few phrases he can say on his own, due to impediments.
Jeremy is impacted not only by difficulty with speech, and Jeremy’s mother Laurie Vincent says it’s just a miracle he’s alive much less thriving in school and bringing joy to those around him as he is challenged with several major health issues such as fetal valproic acid syndrome, an airway disease, and a seizure disorder.
His health is a very serious issue, but so is being able to learn and communicate with other students — who jumped at the chance to be able to help him communicate better through electronics. After all, you can be sure this is their specialty!
Using fast and creative teamwork, other students at Ben Lomond High School, in Ogden, Utah wanted their friend Jeremy not only to be able to have to joy of communicating with everybody through his iPad, they wanted to be able to hear him. And most of all, they wanted to make sure he had his communication device tethered close by at all times. Demonstrating the magic of motivated kids, they had a 3D printed black tripod device whipped up in no time to see that Jeremy had his iPad attached to his wheelchair.
“They actually care about others in the community,” Vincent said. “I want to tell their parents, ‘Thank you so much,’ from our family. It means a lot to us.”
Prompted by two of the faculty, Jack Bice and Zach Hirschi, who realized it would be handy for Jeremy to have the iPad close by, the students were given the project and they took off running, with a 3D design completed by lunch. These are kids who are very comfortable with innovation — and 3D printing technology — as they used the school’s MakerBot 3D printer and had their device ready for Jeremy by the end of the week.
“I said this is something the students could do really easily,” Hirschi explained. “I gave them a couple of ideas, and they just kind of went and did their own thing.”
The maker community, filled with 3D printing enthusiasts of all ages worldwide, is built on design and sharing. That concept has led to many heartwarming stories, products, and outcomes, but what is at the heart of the story at Ben Lomond High School is true caring for fellow humans. Two of the students mainly responsible for the helpful iPad device were seniors Duncan Andrus and Elliott Jimenez.
“I love 3-D modeling, and I love being able to help people out,” Andrus said.
“It actually feels pretty nice, just seeing how I could help out,” Jimenez agreed.
With his iPad, firmly attached beside him, Jeremy can communicate through it with basic words and sentences — bringing everyone delight.
“Jeremy is a happy young man, and he’s a social butterfly,” Vincent said. “Everybody who comes in contact with Jeremy pretty much falls in love with him.”
These kids put their minds and available technology to work to improve the quality of life for Jeremy Dixon, demonstrating that they are part of an even larger community that’s raising up some great kids.
“My favorite thing to do is hang out with all the cute girls,” Dixon said through his iPad.
Enough said, and a job well done from his peers.
Have you or anyone you know used 3D design and 3D printing to make something that improves the quality of life for an individual challenged with health problems? Tell us about it in the 3D Printed iPad Tripod Device for Special Needs Student forum over at 3DPB.com.
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