Like most expectant parents, Chelsie and Jeremy King started planning for the arrival of their first child shortly after learning Chelsie was pregnant. But unlike many soon-to-be parents, Jeremy uses a wheelchair part of the time following brain surgery three years ago.
While he can walk, Jeremy now needs to use a wheelchair at times due to balance issues, Chelsie King told Good Morning America, and carrying or pushing a baby in a stroller wouldn’t be safe.
When looking for strollers, the Kings couldn’t find anything online that would work with a wheelchair. So Chelsie King, a teacher at Bullis School in Potomac Maryland, asked fellow faculty member Matt Zigler if he could help. Zigler teaches the Bullis Innovation & Technology Lab (BITlab) Making for Social Good course to upper school students.
BITLab is described by Bullis’ website as allowing students to “develop and implement empathy, a key element of the design thinking process, to address a need within a community (local, regional, or global) rather than a personal need or desire.” These students work to make products or services with a positive impact.
Ten students went through the research, design, development and fabrication process of making two types of wheelchair attachments. The WheeStroll Stroller Attachment attaches an infant car seat to a wheelchair. The WheeStroll Stroller Connector lets an entire stroller hook onto the front of a wheelchair once a baby outgrows its infant car seat.
The project is featured in this video from Maker Pipe, from which the students got some of their materials, below. It allows viewers to see the wheelchair car seat attachment in action, starting at the two-minute mark.
In another YouTube video, David Schlitter of Maker Pipe interviews Zigler and a few of the students about the project.
Zigler posted some of the process on Twitter, showing the stroller being tested for weight, the 3D printing being done and a new version being made. The attachments went through several versions before the final product was created.
Here’s a video of the wheelchair stroller connector being installed in March:
Today I got to install a working version of the wheelchair stroller adapter that @BullisSchool students designed in the @weareprintlab #MakeAbleChallenge. So cool to see their efforts ready for the real world and all the walks to be taken this spring! #MakerSpace #FabLab pic.twitter.com/EC0yDlAXSO
— Matt Zigler (@BullisBITlab) March 17, 2021
The students have won two awards for their designs. They were nominated for the PrintLab 2021 make:able design challenge, an assistive technology design challenge for students from around the world. They won in the categories Best Inspirational Story (14-18) and Best Showcase of Iterative Design (14-18).
Bullis School tweeted about the win in May. “We are SO PROUD of this amazing team,” the school said.
👏🏼 Congrats to 6 #BullisUS @BullisBITlab students on their 🏆 2 international awards in PrintLabs 2021 make:able design challenge for the "WheeStroll", aka Wheelchair Project. We are SO PROUD of this amazing team ▶️ https://t.co/QCpaNsndLo#MakingforSocialGood #BullisBITlab
— Bullis School (@BullisSchool) May 5, 2021
Zigler has made a video with instructions on how to make the wheelchair attachments online. That way, anyone with access can create them too. The full method can be found at Instructables. Check out the accompanying video on YouTube:
Zigler also posted about the project on the Maker Pipe community and won the company’s Build of the Month award for March 2021.
The students told NBC4 they loved seeing how their creation helped the Kings with their baby, Phoenix, who was born in March.
Bullis freshmen Jewel Walker also wondered why something like the WheeStroll didn’t already exist.
“It definitely made me feel for them and it kind of made me mad because something like this should be made already and we shouldn’t be the one — high schoolers — making these designs,” the student said.
Thankfully, though, they did!