On April 30, in spite of adverse weather conditions (flooding!) V-LINC Volunteers were greeted at The Baltmore Engineers Club with carnations and awards.
The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Dr. Andy Conn for his commitment to helping children with disabilities become more independent, and he was one of the four recipeients of the Team of the Year Award - it went to Bike Clinic Team Leaders: Andy Conn, Niel Leon, Chuck Micheals, & John Staehlin.
Above: V-LINC President Dean Drake, Dr. Andy Conn, Executive Director Theo Pinette, Niel Leon. The team received medals for their win. Unfortunately John Staehlin and Chuck Michels were not present for the Team of the Year Awards - Medals are in the mail you two!
Our very deserving Rookie of the Year was Jane Leff, a nurse who lives in Harford County and jumped right into working with our Client Service Team (CST) when she was needed.She has already done many client visits to help evaluate project requests. Jane receives her award from Dean Drake below:
V-LINC's Partner of the Year Award went to: Towson University's Occupational Therapy Health Promotion Initiatives in the Community class and Professor Marlene Riley. The student team that worked with V-LINC and our volunteer, Kevin Capinpin from Northrop Grumman, to learn more about Sensory Processing Disorders among autistic children and youth. Every team member from the OT class showed great dedication to improving the lives of children with autism. Marlene Riley is shown accepting the award from Dean Drake below:
Project of the Year was Jake's Bed with Alarm System designed and made by Laura Lemires' CCBC - Essex class. His bed was made to allow him to crawl up into it by himself and includes several buttons that he can press wherever he is when he runs into any trouble in the night. This allows his mom to sleep much better!
Jake was on hand to help draw prizes for the volunteers who attended the event.
We imposed on Jake to draw winning raffle tickets for some fun Volunteer Prizes too. His mom, Angela, is shown below helping Jake back to their seats. Jake loves to be the center of attention!
The Rose Award goes annually to someone who has contributed significantly to V-LINC and its services over a period of time. This year the award was presented to Hugh Evans, who served for many years on the LINC and V-LINC boards for many years and is an advocate for and supporter of services for children with disbilities.
A few more photos in the BEAUTIFUL Engineers Club
Below: V-LINC Board Members Leslie Margolis, Bob Roswell, Matt Hutchinso, and Ken Johnson
Board Members Ken Johnson and David Li
Above: Lauren Li talks with Sharon Wylie of WBFF TV.
Below: Our guests enjoy the food and start the bidding on Silent Auction items before we convene.
Above: Dean Drake and Theo Pinette enjoy Northrop Grumman retiree Wally Hoff's granddaughter (and Wally) with Joe Ensor of Northrop Grumman.
Below: WBFF's Morning News Anchorman Tom Rodgers starts the bidding on Live Auction items! Tom was a hit and helped V-LINC raise funds for its work.
Above: Rich and Bev Drake with Dean and Dawn Drake. Rich was a VME President and Dean is our current V-LINC President.
Below: Theo Pinette, President Dean Drake and Angela Tyler.
And here is the most important group at the event: V-LINC's Heroes! Shown with Angela Tyler, our Manager of Volunteer Services
For the many volunteers who missed this event due to life or the heavy rains, we missed you, and we'll see you next year!
V-LINC held its first 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. A SECOND BIKE CLINIC was held at a school in Anne Arundel County. Eight children with disabilities watched engineers and volunteers assemble special bikes just for them and then they tested their new bike. Some went home with a bike, others are waiting for a adjustments to make sure the bike fits all their needs.
We hope to have at least two bike clinics each year for children and young adults with disabilities. Nothing says freedom to a child more than a shiny new bike! Below, two Marley Station students test their new bikes!
V-LINC, a non-profit organization located in Baltimore, MD is seeking a special education teacher with excellent computer skills. Experience in an inclusive classroom or teaching people with disabilities is highly desirable. The Learning & Technology Specialist will evaluate the potential for use of technologies (software, computers, assistive devices etc...) to aid people with a wide range of disabilities, assist with technology selection and provide training and limited technical assistance to both educators and possibly special needs students or young children an toddlers. Will focus on training educators or parents on use of iPad and apps for specific learning disabilities and other disabilities.
V-LINC explores and provides technological solutions to improve the independence and quality of life for individuals of all ages with disabilities in Maryland. We do this through a mix of off-the-shelf computer software and equipment and one-of-a-kind, customized assistive technology. Our AT program includes training for area teachers on tools to help special needs students learn and achieve. We are currently training teachers with inclusive classrooms to use iPads to integrate special needs students materials and learning into the curriculum.
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.
Hanna is a 16-year-old who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy; blindness; and cystic fibrosis, a life-threatening disorder that causes an abnormal buildup of mucus in the lungs and pancreas. Her family loves to travel and hike together, but most rental cars are often too small to accommodate her wheelchair. Her wheelchair, a Convaid Cruiser 16, could fold to decrease the width, but its length remained unchanged at 41 inches (about 3’ 5”). Hanna’s family needed it to be 36 inches (3’) long at most.
While trimming a few inches off the top might sound like an obvious solution at first, the request actually required a much more technical approach. The finished chair would not only have to meet the family’s several design requirements, but also retain the original model’s compliance with WC-19 crash test standards; altering the structure of the device would certainly compromise that.
Carl Snyder, Vincent Rolin, Alex Villa, and Juan Tobón, mechanical engineering students at Johns Hopkins University, chose to help Hanna for their senior design project. As Team MOVE, they significantly reduced the length of the wheelchair by altering the attachment points and implementing several hinges. The students also preserved all of the safety specifications set by the manufacturer.
“I am over-the-moon excited about the modified chair,” Heather, Hanna’s mom, wrote. “Thank you so much, V-LINC.”
The chair fits comfortably in the trunk of the family car, so they can now rent just about any vehicle to transport it while on vacation.