Cillian Jackson, 2, was born with a genetic defect that has left him with mobility issues. Yet thanks to an enterprising and compassionate group of high school students, Cillian has been given a new lease on life with an innovative set of wheels.
Last year, the toddler had to be either pushed in a stroller or carried in his parents’ arms. Given the fact that motorized wheelchairs cost several thousands of dollars, his parents were struggling to find a way to give Cillian the ability to move independently. In addition, their insurance refused to pick up the tab since they believed the boy was too young for a motorized wheelchair.
Thankfully, the robotics students at Cillian’s father’s former Minnesota high school were more than happy to help. The Rogue Robotics team at Farmington High School has won numerous awards for their innovative designs, yet when they were given the chance to make a real difference in the life of young Cillian, they were more than willing to take on the challenge.
The wheelchair 2-year-old Cillian Jackson needed costs more than $20,000. His parents couldn't afford it. Insurance wouldn't pay for it. So, a high school robotics team built him one: https://t.co/n5CFrO2A62 pic.twitter.com/JYyA8nv6pq— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) April 2, 2019
The team modified a motorized Power Wheels toy car given to them by Cillian’s parents to build the wheelchair. The robotics students added a customized joystick to guide the chair, replaced all of the electronics and installed a child-sized bicycle seat they purchased on Amazon. They then adapted pool noodles as safety bumpers and implemented a five-point harness to keep Cillian safe.
Since none of the components were too expensive, the team was able to custom build a motorized wheelchair that Cillian’s parents could afford. They recognized, however, that seeing Cillian happily riding around in his new car made the project was priceless.
“I think we won here more than we do in our competitions,” one student told KARE11. Another team member added, “Instead of completing a task, we’re helping change someone’s life.”
In the US, 54 million people are living with disabilities, which includes five percent of children ages 5 to 17 who live with disabilities. Meanwhile, 3.6 million people over the age of 15 use a wheelchair, yet many don’t have the means to purchase a motorized chair. To help people around the world with mobility issues have access to a wheelchair, you can make a donation the American Wheelchair Mission.