This coming Saturday, three local girls, Nile, Brienna and Katelyn, will receive prosthetic hands thanks to WNY STEM, which sponsors the Hand in Hand program. This incredible program almost sounds too good to be true. There are so many inspirational components, which all stem from the overarching goal to provide prosthetics to people in need.
In order to get to the point where the prosthetics can be fitted, teams of WNY students (urban teens and tweens) were provided the scientific knowhow and the technical resources to design and fabricate real prosthetic hands using 3-D printers and tech tools. Altogether, 51 local youth came together to embark upon the project, which meant that they were immersed into teachings and discoveries that include basic anatomy, 3D printing and fabrication, engineering design, computer coding, disability awareness, leadership skills, and service learning. The hope is that this type of hands on programming will open up doors for urban youth to explore careers in medical technology.
Online open source resources provided by e-NABLE, a global community of volunteers who fabricate assistive devices for people in need all over the world, guided the final design and fabrication of the prosthetic hands.
Felice Masumbuko, a rising senior from Lackawanna High School was one of the 15 Project Team Leaders, and he commented, “Thanks to this program, I was able to interact with different types of people with different perspectives and learn from each and everyone one of them. I also learned how to apply my knowledge to certain tasks I have never done before.”
Regardless whether the urban youth ultimately embark upon careers in the tech or medical fields, one thing is certain – the experience is one that they will take with them for the rest of their lives, no matter which direction that they go.
- Over the past two years, students have produced prosthetics for 9 children
- The program has engaged 96 primarily urban youth in STEM skills learning
- The program also serves recipients globally, including a 2018 hand recipient in Ghana
Amy McCarthy, recipient Katelyn’s mother said, “Getting this prosthetic arm will allow Katelyn to be more independent. We are so grateful to be part of this project.”
On Saturday, at the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center, a fourth child – a boy from Ghana named Issahaku – will also be acknowledged. His prosthetic hand will be delivered in January, in conjunction with a ceremony arranged by the National Resource Centre for Children with Disabilities. As part of the ceremony, Dr. Richard Hershberger of Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center and representatives of WNY STEM Hub will deliver remarks. Five Student Leaders from the program will present the hands and a video recap. Masumbuko will make closing remarks on behalf of the students.
The Hand in Hand program is made possible thanks to the support of First Niagara Foundation, Garman Family Foundation, Roswell Park, the Health Sciences Charter School, UB/MD Orthopaedics, UB Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, PhRMA, Miller 3D, New York Healthworks, and United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.