An Israeli company is helping children with mobility impairments in the developing world attend school.
Keter, which produces the colorful, plastic chairs that are a staple in many Israeli homes, has teamed up with leading Israeli experts to develop a low-cost wheelchair specifically for children.
In 2009, Pablo Kaplan, Keter’s CEO, and Chava Rotshtein founded Wheelchairs of Hope, a non-profit organization that aimed to use Keter’s experience in chairs to develop a low-cost wheelchair option for kids in the developing world.
To build the best chair possible, the duo teamed up with leading design and medical professionals who donated their time to make the chair safe, durable, and well-designed.
The Ziv-Av Engineering Group worked to design the wheelchair to be lightweight and inexpensive while also meeting the practical needs of children who needed to traverse rough terrain. In order to adapt to the unique needs of the child, the chair was also designed with “the ability to add on devices for kids with special needs, like to stabilize the neck,” according to Itzik Taff, Ziv-Av CEO.
Naomi Geffen, deputy director general of clinical services a ALYN rehabilitation hospital for children in Jerusalem, also consulted on the design to meet the unique needs of child users.
When the first prototype was printed during the summer of 2013, Geffen said the team was pleased. “We were very happy with the results,” Geffen said of the chairs. “It looks like something fun and not like a medical device you wouldn’t want to use.”
The new kid-friendly chairs will come in bright colors and will cost approximately $50, one-third of the cost of traditional wheelchairs. The team expects the first pilot group of children in the developing world will receive chairs by 2014.
“Our wheelchair is specifically designed for children, as we wish to empower education through mobility,” the Wheelchairs of Hope founders explained. “Mobility from early childhood is a gate to education. By giving access to education we create a new generation with better skills, confidence and hope.”