High School Students Design Wheelchair Stroller For Teacher’s Husband
Never underestimate the power of some determined teenagers!
When middle school teacher Chelsie King and her husband, Jeremy, found out they were expecting a baby, they were understandably excited. However, they also knew adjusting to being a family of three would come with its difficulties. Three years prior to welcoming their baby, Jeremy had undergone brain surgery resulting in multiple physical challenges, particularly with his balance. Because of this, Jeremy uses a wheelchair. “So, then when we found out we were expecting, we kind of immediately jumped into ‘OK, how he is going to do certain things for our baby that normal parents don’t have to think about?’” Chelsie explained to NBC4 Washington. “And one of the things that we really couldn’t find was a way to enjoy walks with our son.”
Fortunately for Chelsie and Jeremy, they had a bunch of innovative teens in their network. The school where Chelsie teaches –Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland– is host to an Innovation and Technology Lab called BITlab. The class teaches creating for social good, making Chelsie and Jeremy the perfect recipients. “It seemed like sort of the perfect challenge for this class,” said Matt Zigler, head of BITlab. “One, it was great to have it as a challenge, but two, it was great that it was somebody in our community that could benefit from it.”
The class was split into two groups to work on creating a wheelchair-accessible stroller. The two groups of students ended up combining their ideas to create one standout design. They ultimately came up with the “WheeStroll,” which has since won two international awards. “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,” said one of the students.
The Kings were touched by the students’ dedication to creating this innovative product. “The first time we were able to take it out into our neighborhood just the three of us, it was amazing,” Chelsie said. “So, it was a match made in heaven with what we needed and with what Matt does in his classes.” The BITlab students were equally moved. “To see the smile on his face and to know that I was able to help give him that connection with his child that he wouldn’t be able to have because of his disabilities,” senior Benjamin Gordon said.
Our hope is that every high school will one day receive the funding, support, and resources it needs to host an innovation lab and class for its students. The students of Bullis School were able to design a product that makes lasting change, not only for a member of their community, but for all people in wheelchairs who should be able to take their children for walks in strollers too. Our hats go off to all members of the BITlab team, as well as Chelsie and Jeremy!