Providing Independence Through Technology
V-LINC hold Bike Clinic at Aviation Velo, the bike shop in Linthicum to help 4 special needs children realize their dream of riding their own bike! Engineers and other are still needed to help assemble, fit and deliver these bikes to each child's home.
V-LINC GRANTS 12 WISHES
Twelve central Maryland families will have their wishes granted to receive FREE custom built devices to help their disabled child gain more independence. The twelve applicants (children ages 3-21) were from a pool of 54 who submitted requests to V-LINC’s What I Wish for My Child Program. Many requests came through the assistance of WBFF-TV, the program’s major sponsor.
Now in its fifth year, the What I Wish for My Child Program offers a unique opportunity for parents of special needs children to submit “wishes” for one-of-a-kind solutions to empower their child.
“We help parents realize the dream for their son or daughter to to lead a more normal life among their peers. V-LINC has received request for everything from a dressing assist device for children with club arms to a voice modulation device for high energy autistic children” according to Volunteer Manager Angela Tyler.
Here are just three of these great children who are winners: A'lain, Rachel and Noah.
“I am delighted that my son will be able to sit and enjoy the entire meal with the whole family” says Stephanie, a Baltimore County mom who wanted a custom rocking chair to calm her autistic son.
"In the midst of the dwindling economy and budget constraints, it’s good to be aware that such supportive agencies are available” says Esther, a Baltimore City mom whose non-verbal son has developmental delays – her son will receive an adapted bike to ride outdoors with other neighborhood children.
V-LINC grants these wishes through the teamwork of volunteer engineers, medical professionals, and engineering classes in nine local high schools and universities. Each request is researched to determine its safety and whether the solution is commercially available. Engineers use innovative design techniques and the latest technology to meet the needs of these children.
“Nothing means more to a parent than to see their child leading a happier life, empowered and accepted by their peers” says Executive Director Theo Pinette. "Something as simple as a way to ride a bike with friends is huge in a child's life."
V-LINC Volunteers were recognized in May for their many achievements.
Dr. Pakula was on hand to accept V-LINC's Rose Award on behalf of the Loius H. Gross Foundation. The Foundation has had significant impact on V-LINC's ability to expand its Inclusive Summer Day Camp and on many children with disabilities served by V-LINC, and LINC, over the years.
Below: Dr. Lawrence Pakula and VME Founder John Staehlin at Recognition Dinner
President Dean Drake recognizes Carol Wheatley, our Volunteer of the Year
Valerie Brammer with daughter Hannah and A-Team volunteers Andy Conn and Ron Newman
Antoinette (and mom) with the JHU Engineering Team who worked on her Dining Device
V-LINC Board Members Dr. Kenneth Silver, Ken Johnson and President Dean Drake
Yes, Board Member and Volunteer Erick Vinas Figueroa is still playing the guitar for us!
Chuck you are our Favorite Unsung Hero!
So many fantastic people volunteer for V-LINC - here are some with Angela Tyler (R) V-LINC's Volunteer Manager (have you heard the one about managing engineers? - something about herding cats?
New UMBC volunteer Joe Deangelis who working on improvements to the Sonar Device for Joel Zimba (shown here with Cat)
Carol Wheatley, V-LINC Executive Director Theo Pinette, President Dean Drake
Arthrogryposis is a rare disorder characterized by multiple joint contractures, which can include muscle weakness and fibrosis. Antoinette has lived with this since birth, yet she manages to pursue her interests, such as controlling a computer with her head and reading books. Of course, she has to rely on others for some other needs.
Her 50-year-old mother currently carries her from floor-to-floor in their home because it is a rental and they cannot make modifications. Antoinette initially requested a better way to get upstairs to her bedroom, but decided to change her request to address what she sees as a bigger problem.
While at home, Antoinette lies on her side and eats off a plate on the bed. When dining in public, someone has to feed her, which would be embarrassing for any 20-year-old.Despite these obstacles, Antoinette remains strong and hopes V-LINC will be able to help her. She would like an engineer to design a way for her to feed herself at the family dinner table, a place of conversation and sharing.
If V-LINC’s Project Review and Acceptance Committee (PRAC) committee approves this request, we will then begin the search for a volunteer who is ready to take on a tough project. This will not be an easy challenge!
We are always looking for creative volunteers and other inventive minds who want to help make life better for others. Please contact V-LINC or fill out a volunteer application if you or someone you know is the right person for this job.
Hannah is an intelligent 12-year-old child with severe osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) type III, a condition that causes very fragile bones. She is very small and is not expected to grow significantly. Her mother, Valerie, tells V-LINC that Hannah has had more than 110 bone fractures in her life already, and both arms and her right leg are currently in casts. She cannot even walk without causing a fracture.
Valerie wanted a way for Hannah to transfer in and out of bed independently. Hannah can scoot across the floor and crawl onto surfaces up to 10 inches from the floor, so Valerie suggested a low bed with the possibility of a recline for comfort. Several members of our Client Service Team (CST) contacted Hannah's mom to learn more about Hannah and report their findings back to the rest of the committee. The CST had a difficult time deciding whether or not V-LINC's volunteers might provide a solution without harming Hannah. Difficult decisions such as this are ones the CST is faced with all the time. Our hearts are grabbed.
V-LINC volunteers and Hannah's mom put their heads together and found a way to make Hannah's wish for a small, Hannah-size couch was granted, along with another project to create a ramp so Hannah can crawl onto her sofa by herself. Hannah has heart and does not let her fragility keep her from being a teenager and full of life.
Hannah is able to sit in her own Hannah-size sofa now. She can crawl up a soft ramp to sit and then she tilt the sofa to rest comfortably. A wheel chair is not a comfortabe place to be all day long, so this is a very welcome addition in her life.
Taryn, who is 28, has mild-to-moderate mental retardation, is speech and hearing impaired, and has vestibular impairment, which causes frequent falls. In spite of so many limitations, she is able to work and loves her job. She contacted V-LINC with a request for adaptive device to make work a little bit easier. Taryn works in a day program at Gallagher Services as an assistant to the horticultural therapist. In her position, she has to transport the necessary supplies – plants, pots, soil, etc. – using her rollator or a cart donated by a local market. Unfortunately, neither piece of equipment is ideal: the rollator is too short for her, and the cart lacks a braking system.
The shopping cart is the ideal size for the job, however. V-LINC's Client Service Team volunteers believe its engineering volunteers will be able to fit it with hand brakes and a hinged flip up work surface so can be Taryn safer while at work.
Graydon is a young child with chromosome 18 syndrome. Due to this rare condition, he cannot talk, has very limited mobility, and is sensitive to the touch. His family has a difficult time finding toys he can play with, but they had a brief success with a Fisher-Price Jumperoo. Unfortunately, he quickly outgrew it, leaving the 4-year-old without much to play with.
Having nowhere else to turn, Graydon’s mother, Nichole, contacted V-LINC during its What I Wish for My Child 2011 event to find a solution. “I have looked far and wide for a similar toy for older children and have not been successful in finding one,” she said. “It breaks my heart that his favorite, and only, toy is gone.”
Each semester, V-LINC assigns projects to the high school and college engineering courses it has partnerships with. Not only does that provide the students with valuable experience working for a real client, but they also often split into teams who come up with different prototypes the client can choose between.
During their Spring 2012 semester, student volunteers at CCBC Essex decided to see what they could design for Graydon to allow him to relive the joys of his old toy as safely and comfortably as possible. It must have been his lucky day because Graydon received not one, but two customized jumpers!
One is a redesign of the frame and seat of the original Fisher Price Jumperoo, which can be collapsed for easy transportation.
The other is suspended from a hook on the family’s dining room ceiling.
It wasn’t long after Graydon took his new jumpers home that V-LINC received a card from his family:
Thank you so much for the opportunity to work with your wonderful staff and the students and professor at CCBC. Our family could not have been happier with the results of this project. We are grateful to have Graydon back in a toy that he loves so much. It was so heartbreaking when he got too big to continue using the old one. It’s such a wonderful thing to see the smile on his face now when he gets in and jumps around. Thank you again for this once in a lifetime gift.
BLINK System - Created in the 1980’s by V-LINC (VME).
Now available for any platform (download)
Thanks to Volunteer Telly Stroumbis.