A Syrian Child’s Special Needs are Met
Undergraduate engineering students of John Hopkins University customized a stroller for Karam Tarazi, a 6 year old boy who is suffering from a rare, progressive genetic disease that has damaged his nervous system. As a result, he lacks muscle control, can’t walk nor talk, and has some other physical challenges. His wheelchair isn’t too comfortable, hinders mobility, and can’t be easily managed by his mom whenever she’s alone.
What his Parents did
Karam’s parents met with Angela Tyler, the volunteer services manager, of V-LINC and discussed his challenges with her. Since V-LINC is a non-profit organization that matches people with uncommon needs to those who can render assistance by proffering solutions, they did just that for Karam. Tyler reached out to Niel Leon, a senior staff engineer at John Hopkins University and a V-LINC volunteer to see if he could help. He did. How?
Niel set up the project for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (students’ chapter) in the Whiting School of Engineering. A group of 8 students came together to create a stroller that would aid Karam’s mobility. They created one for less than half the price a commercial stroller of that sort would have gone for. These costs were covered by donations made to V-LINC.
The students consulted with Karam’s parents and his physical therapist before embarking on this project. This consultation aided their understanding of his situation and needs so as to incorporate it into the custom stroller.
According to Fahimi Hanzaei, who led the group, “the goal was to design a stroller that would support Karam’s body and frame and hold him in a secure, comfortable position, while also being lightweight enough and foldable, so his mother could manage on her own”.
How it was met
To achieve this, they had to improvise a lot and met with complicated situations a few times but with the help of the school’s manufacturing department, they achieved their goal. The chair is lightweight, comfortable, and foldable such that it doesn’t add to Karam’s weight and is easy for his mom to lift. It fits well in her car compared to the wheelchair to which he was formerly confined. He can as well assume a relaxed position in his stroller.
Karam’s parents were extremely delighted on receiving the stroller. They talked about how they would now be able to visit more place with Karam in his new stroller.
These students, Fahimi Hanzaei, Andre Ruas, Joseph Chung, Mina Banoub, Maria Coleman, Stefanie Kaye Shirley, Miranda Grenville, and Sumita Rajpurohit, are to be highly commended for their selflessness. They used engineering to improve the quality of life of a young child with disability. One of them mentioned that he had family members with disabilities, so Karam’s situation struck very close to home for him. It moved him to help others.
What about You?
The question now is, what can you do? What skill do you have? If you don’t have skills but happen to be financially buoyant, what course do you pursue? You can imitate the selfless spirit shown by these eight students and every other person who assisted their course probably by suggestions, introductions, or donations.
There are lots of disabled kids with needs worldwide, you can spend your resources if you have it, if not you can assist via non-profit organizations like V-LINC, serving as a volunteer.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure it helps to improve the quality of life of another human besides yourself. You’ll be happy you did. Again, as we all know, there is more happiness in giving to others. Find opportunities to do so and experience a different kind of fulfillment.