On an early October morning when the air is as crisp as a just-picked apple, Nate Johnson rolls his power wheelchair down the ramp extending from his family’s minivan, gets a boost into a walker, and makes the transition into his hiking chair.
Yes, his hiking chair, a manual vehicle with fat tires and push-pull levers wrapped in red handlebar tape.
Jayden Fuenmayor, an 8-year-old in Slidell, loves going camping with Cub Scouts. For his first few years of scouts, he was able to take his regular wheelchair. But as he's grown, his wheelchair wasn't able to hold up on the rough terrain and could be damaged.
“God gave me a second chance at life when I had my car accident at age 19 and I am determined to try and make an impact in this world for the better.”
A car accident left Jeremy paralyzed from the waist down—but that didn’t stop him from working as a 911 dispatcher for eight years before medically retiring.
When Tish Scolnik saw an ad for the “Wheelchair Design in Developing Countries” class in a hallway at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology her freshman year, she had no idea how much it would shape her career. She was still figuring out what she wanted to major in, and thought this class would teach her more about mechanical engineering while satisfying her interest in medicine.
Now, Scolnik is the CEO of GRIT, a startup that makes the Freedom Chair—a new type of wheelchair that allows its users to get across all types of terrain.
Tish Scolnik was an undeclared freshman at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006 when she saw a flyer for a class called Wheelchair Design for Developing Countries.
The professor, Amos Winter, pushed his students to come up with a wheelchair that could navigate rough terrain and be nimble enough for indoors. Scolnik became so inspired by the challenge that she, Winter, and several classmates designed a wheelchair that borrows heavily from bicycle mechanics. Riders, though, use their hands to crank the chair up and over rough terrain.
Some grants for riders in tough financial situations come through the GRIT Freedom Chair Pay it Forward Low Income Fund, which is endowed by private donations and contributes a sizable portion of the chair’s expense.
Five years ago, Wesley Hamilton, then 23, suffered a gunshot wound to the back and was paralyzed from the waist down. After lying in a bed for two years battling depression and physical ailments, training and exercise have brought a new life and happiness to Hamilton. "I have never had muscles, so building muscles, eating right, made me feel better, made my mind clearer. It was an excellent feeling," said Hamilton, 28, of Kansas City.
Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/living/health-fitness/article124139919.html#storylink=cpy
“By using bike parts on the Freedom Chair we can create a high performance product that is also easy to repair,” said Ben Judge, product development engineer and co-founder. An avid cyclist, Judge is excited to be part of the Freedom Chair project. “Getting people off-road is a huge quality of life improvement. I’m excited to share my passion for the trail with a new audience” he added.
“We don’t see the world as developing world or developed world; we see it more as people with disabilities want to have a normal quality of life.”
The wheelchair provides invaluable mobility to those with disabilities, but there are countless places where it can't go. Trails, parks, beaches, woods … without a paved road or structured pathway, the wheelchair can quickly find itself out of its element. The GRIT Freedom Chair updates wheelchair design – well not technically wheelchair, but "recreational device" – with all-terrain capabilities. Part mountain bike, part (recreational) wheelchair, the Freedom Chair opens up a new world of exploration.
Fast Company 2012 Innovation by Design Award: "Having ingenuity that’s this low-tech is kick-ass," says Heiselman. This wheelchair has a lever that smooths the ride over ruts—a breakthrough especially relevant ... where paving is rare.