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The Carton Chair

It’s one thing to have a child with special needs, but not being able to give him what he needs to be comfortable is another”. Jeff’s mother contemplation during one of the therapy sessions gave me more motivation to finish the APT (Appropriate Paper-based Technology) chair I had been working on for the past one week. I knew very well that after I’m through with the chair, Jeff’s life will change drastically. With his impairment, Jeff requires a modified chair complete with a headrest, footrest trunk control and fitting measurements to hold him and put him in the right position.

Jeff has multiple disabilities: Spina bifida and hydrocephalus.Thus, he has limited movement control, limited social interactions, improper and dependent sitting, and challenges in proper feeding while the mother is consequently limited in movement of life's activities. Coming from a needy family, it has been very difficult to access and afford a special chair customized to meet his needs. Jeff has therefore been laying down on a common chair in the house as the mother carries out daily duties.

I invited two women, a volunteer and a friend of the family and we set out to make a carton chair for Jeff. I wanted to make a chair that would not only help Jeff physical status but also enable him participate in family and community activities. This would also give the mother the comfort of doing her chores side by side with Jeff. Few community members donated the materials I needed i.e. cartons and wheat flour to use as the paste to join the cartons.

Every cut, every curve and every joint always inspires me to make a child friendly appliance (appearance, risk factor). I also know this chair encourages regular therapy for the child thus enhancing achievement of the rehabilitation objectives. For me this is enough.

Jeff is currently living an improved life, as Albert Einstein says, “a life worth living is a life lived for others”.

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