Jeremy King, 37, had undergone surgery for a brain tumor and it caused physical challenges that impaired his mobility.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on July 16, 2021
Jeremy King is a father with impaired mobility, but thanks to some high school students, he can now walk his newborn son. King, from Germantown, Maryland, had undergone surgery for a brain tumor and it caused physical challenges that impaired his mobility. King, 37, and his wife, Chelsie, 32, found out they were expecting a child in June 2020. King wanted to be able to walk his son and he needed to find a way to do it safely. "While he can walk, he can't do so safely carrying a child," said Chelsie King, reported Good Morning America. "So we jumped into, 'OK, what do we need in order for him to parent safely?' and honestly, not a whole lot came up — there's just really not a ton of resources out there for disabled parents."
Chelsie King, who works as a drama teacher and adviser at Bullis School, sought help from a colleague, Matt Zigler, at the K-12 school. She asked if Zigler could help "come up with something that might attach to Jeremy's wheelchair." Zigler teaches a high school class called "Making for Social Good," in which students design products that'll help have a positive impact on society. Zigler reached out to his students and challenged them to help the King family. "The idea of the course is to start out by trying to understand the problem, so we did interviews with the family," said Zigler. They also sought help and information from the local fire department as they provide infant car seat installation training.
The students were also eager to help out Chelsie King, a teacher at their school. All the students had their own ideas of what the wheelchair attachment should look like and drew up their own 3D models. "We were all very goal-oriented," said Jacob Zlotnitsky, an 18-year-old student. "We were all focused on successfully making the best product we could in the amount of time we had." They narrowed the options down to two designs, which Zigler said "both address the issue in slightly different ways."
The group split themselves up into two, one focusing on the WheeStroll Stroller Attachment, while the other worked on the WheeStroll Stroller Connector. The attachment would help connect an infant car seat to Jeremy King's wheelchair, while the connector would connect an entire stroller to a wheelchair. "Children grow and they grow out of a car seat so we wanted Mr. King to be able to walk with his son no matter what age he was," said Zlotnitsky.
Once they settled on a final design, they worked on either purchasing the parts required or using their school's MakerSpace to 3D print the parts required. The students had borrowed a wheelchair from a school nurse to use as a test model. The group worked closely with the King family, to get their opinion on the product and how best it could be tweaked to suit their needs. "It was certainly emotional seeing the process and everything that went into this," said Jeremy King. "I really feel the students took all my concerns to heart when creating the prototypes."
While the students were working to create a wheelchair-stroller for the Kings, they also wanted to create a prototype that could be easily made by other families with disabilities. "With fairly cheap materials and tools, somebody that's a little bit handy could make these for someone," said Zigler. Once the product was done, the instructions on how to build the wheelchair-stroller were made available online for anyone to access.
The students had completed the design and made the wheelchair-stroller by the time the couple had their child. Within a few weeks, Jeremy King was taking his newborn son for a walk. "Using it was overwhelming because I never thought I would be able to do something like this with our son," Jeremy King said. "Most people can go out on a walk with their family but that is really difficult for me — most people take that for granted."