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Students Making for Students

25 years ago, the founding directors of Adaptive Design Association, Inc. had a vision to build adaptive equipment and teach others how to do so in a least restrictive way. They took a risk by advocating that a person, no matter their ability, can participate in the making of Adaptive Design.  

Students from Adaptive Design’s local school partner, P138 Park West High School, have been busy working on their pre-vocational and technical skills through our adaptive design school workshop program called Made to Learn. This past semester, our student's experience was captured through the lens of a documentary filmmaker. In this film, you will see the work of 6 students and their support staff at school, in Adaptive design, and in the community. It’s important to note that, since 2017, over 100 students have participated in a variation of this program, and 436 adaptations have been created by students for students. 

The high school students were challenged this year to come up with a design for supportive floor seating for Paulina and her friends in their elementary classroom. Adam and Eric, the design team at Adaptive Design met with Paulina’s teachers and took on the challenge of creating an innovative floor-sitting design. Their goal was to create equipment that was inexpensive, portable, and comfortable. Eric and Adam got help building the chairs from students in the Made to Learn program.  “We regularly share our workshop with students from a public school nearby.  The students have their own personal disabilities but have a desire to build equipment to help others.  They work with us once a week.”  Said Eric.  The first two chairs were completed, and it was time to see if the design was going to work. The design team went to Paulina’s classroom, and one of her teachers gently placed Paulina in the bright blue chair.  “Paulina lit up with a huge smile as soon as she was placed in the chair.” Said Eric.  She was able to feel the floor with her feet and hands and experience her surroundings in a whole new way. Our team effort paid off!”

It turns out that the double triangle chair is a winning design.  Not only was the floor sitter innovative, but the student team won international recognition through University College London’s Making Good Prize from MakingSpaces. 

Next month,  a representative from Adaptive Design and a teacher from the school where Made to Learn is located will travel to London to accept an award from MakingSpaces, an international organization dedicated to developing and sharing inclusive practices in maker spaces and workshops.  The idea is to share ADA’s successful program with workshops all over the world.

Film Production Supported: Mother Cabrini Health Foundation

Film By: Nick Morgulis


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