While we get to hear of many wonderful and beautiful stories as more and more volunteers are delivering free 3D printed e-NABLE “Helper hands” to children and adults around the globe – some of our very favorite stories are the ones that involve e-NABLE recipients who become e-NABLE volunteers that turn around and pay it forward to another recipient who needed a “helping hand.”
One of our amazing volunteers, Stephen Davies, who also happens to be a recipient and tester of e-NABLE devices himself, traveled 200 miles round trip to deliver an **experimental design to his first recipient: an 8 year old little girl named Isabella, from Bristol UK. She is now one of our new Beta testers that will help us develop stronger and better arm designs for our many eager recipients on our wait list. Click the video link below to get a sneak peek into her first experiences with her new device!
Isabella’s parents first discovered e-NABLE through our Facebook page and simply watched as more videos and stories were shared, until they were intrigued enough to ask Isabella if she would be interested in trying one of the devices herself. She jumped at the opportunity to be paired with a maker and they were lucky enough to be connected through e-NABLE and the UK Organization “Reach” who matched her with e-NABLE volunteer, Stephen Davies.
Her father, Matt, writes: “The impact on Isabella’s confidence was almost immediate, she’s never been a shy girl but we are aware of when she is self conscious, particularly in public places where she tends to get the odd unwanted stare or whispered question. The gadget is so bright and bold that she insisted on wearing it to the local supermarket straight after she got it and proudly strutted around wanting the world to see it. She’s been keen to show it off and explain how it works ever since she got it and to almost anyone that will listen.
The gadget isn’t the easiest for Isabella to use as she’s having to use muscles she hasn’t had to rely on previously, so she’s busy testing out picking various things up and working out what she can and can’t do with it.”
Matt shares his thoughts on how much it meant to them that the device was created and gifted to them by another recipient: “Stephen was amazing too – a real highlight of this experience for us. The fact that Stephen has an e-NABLE hand himself and that he’s also a parent, meant that he not only understood from a user perspective what this would do for Isabella but he was able to make her feel at ease with the whole situation. It was incredible.
We are just so grateful to Stephen and the e-NABLE community for the time and energy they have invested in making this happen. The look on Isabella’s face as she realized what she could now do, will live with us forever as will the patience and good nature of Stephen in how he dealt with Isabella on a one to one level.”
Matt writes: “I would encourage everyone to get behind this initiative but remember two things in doing so: 1. This isn’t about creating a functional (traditional) prosthetic hand. It is a gadget (a tool) that enables people to do things they may have previously struggled to do. The confidence boost alone is well worth taking a step into this journey and everything else is just secondary in my mind. 2. Be bold and be colorful in your design!”
In Isabella’s words: “It’s amazing and I LOVE the colours! Im going to use it for as many things as I can!”
Isabella’s volunteer and “Maker,” Stephen Davies is 40 years old and was born missing his left hand. He had given up on wearing prosthetics after the NHS supplied him with what he says “can only be described as a claw from medieval times.”
He writes: ” I was browsing the internet one night and came upon the e-NABLE website and could not believe the hands were free. Soon after filling out my application online, I was partnered with Drew Murray who built my first hand. I was so blown away by the e-NABLE community that I had to be involved.
In the course of a few months, I had raised the money to purchase a 3D printer, been approved as a maker/volunteer and had become very active behind the scenes with the R&D group, trying to improve the hand designs. I like to think that I have found a kindred spirit in Drew, who had advised, mentored and pushed me to use my talents to help others.”
Stephen adds: “I believe that I am in a unique position to be able to model, design, build and wear the devices and help evolve the design of these hands by wearing and testing them on myself.”
What a wonderful circle of giving! These are the kind of stories we love to share and hope that this inspires other recipients and families of recipients to consider volunteering and finding ways to help pay it forward to other families out there who are eagerly waiting the chance to try an e-NABLE device!
**Please note that while these new designs are being created and our select few beta testers are helping to give us feedback, our arm design team has put a halt to creating arm devices until more research and development has been made and the designs can be more easily printed, assembled and fit to recipients. If you are currently waiting for an elbow driven device for you or your child, please know that our beta testers like Isabella, are giving our volunteer designers some valuable input and we hope to have a strong enough new design to put into production soon! Thank you for your patience!
For more information on how to become a volunteer or how to get on the wait list for a device for you or your child – please visit our “Get Involved” page.