When the technology of 3D printing took off powerfully, laying claim to the next revolution and transformation of industry and manufacturing, it’s doubtful that many had any inkling how very revolutionary digital design and 3D printing would be for so many kids challenged without limbs and in need of prosthetics; in fact, at this point, we’ve lost count of how many have been helped–and that’s certainly a good problem to have.
While we report on many wonderful, inspiring stories about children receiving 3D printed prosthetics, from super-hero arms to the massive and charitable undertakings of e-NABLE around the world, there’s something doubly inspiring about children taking the time to help other children.
Not only are kids helping kids, we’re talking about a serious trio of 12-year-old girl power. Corbyn Player, Carson Ellis, and McKenzie Smith of South Carolina put their heads together to help others with missing hands after being introduced to the 3D printers at their school. Not only did the girls want to put the 3D printers to use, they wanted to do something great with them.
“The first time we saw the 3D printers, we were all very intrigued,” said Corbyn Player.
Shortly thereafter, upon hearing about e-NABLE and how the organization pairs those with 3D printers with those in need of prosthetics, the girls and their teacher began putting a plan in action.
“Almost on a whim, we came across that organization one day,” said their teacher Dr. Craft. “And we said, ‘We could do this,’ almost with a sense of nervous bravado.”
In an incredible learning experience, coupled with the opportunity to do something amazing for another young girl, the group–and eventually their whole class–began their journey to begin 3D printing prosthetic hands. They were paired with another girl close in age, named Alyssa.
Age 11, Alyssa was born without her hand. The girls got to know what her needs were, as well as her favorite color, and that was how they 3D printed the prosthetic: in purple. Their goal was to make a prosthetic that would allow her to do many of the tasks she simply could not take on currently without a way to grasp and hold items.
There was a learning curve involved, and the team did go through several iterations as they became more proficient at 3D printing. It was an emotional meeting when they were able to present her with the finished product last November.
“When Alyssa walked in the room with the hand, we all got teary-eyed and she got teary-eyed and we were all just so excited to see that it had actually happened,” said McKenzie Smith.
Alyssa was greatly appreciative of the gift, and it has definitely had the desired results in benefiting her quality of life.
“They helped me do things I would not be able to do,” said Alyssa. “”I held my text book yesterday, and I didn’t drop it on my foot.”
Spurred on by success, the class decided to keep forging further in their 3D printing endeavors and they actually held a ‘Hand-a-Thon,’ joining 85 other classmates in assembling 20 prosthetic hands in one day in a team effort they dubbed ‘Project Kids.’ Not only was this an amazing success, but because of their initiative they won the 2015 Belk Service Learning Prize and an $8,000 check from Belk, Discovery Education and the International Society for Technology in Education.
“So often we have the tendency in our society to almost be derisive towards kids – you know – ‘kids these days,’ ” Dr. Craft says. “But the reality is, when presented with the opportunity to do something positive for others, kids – especially girls – absolutely latch on to it.”
“They gave up recess time, they’ve [worked] after school, they’ve been absolutely awe-inspiring. They’re using their hearts and passion to do something great for this world,” he says.
Now that they’ve learned a new skillset that they can carry into the future and very possibly careers as well, the girls and other students will also continue to ‘pay it forward’ with more and more 3D printed prosthetics that can be shipped around the globe to kids in need.
Have you been involved in any projects involving the 3D printing of prostheses? Share your thoughts regarding this amazing ‘Project Kids’ team in the 3D Printing Prosthetic Hands forum over at 3DPB.com.