How an engineering student and a communications student at the University of Ottawa were able to combine their skill sets to create a social venture to benefit local youth and communities abroad.

By: Jocelyn Courneya

The Give Us A Hand Project started in June 2016, when Kristina Djukic and I were both working on our apprenticeships at the University of Ottawa’s Entrepreneurship Hub. As a communications student, I was working to develop a student-run creative agency, the Digital Storyteller’s Guild. Kristina, a fourth year mechanical engineering student, was continuing her work with the Young Makers, a group that brings 3D printing workshops to local youth in Ottawa. Although our skill sets were vastly different, we both shared an interest in social innovation and community development.

So how did we get into 3D printing of prosthetic hands? First inspired by a 3D hand printing competition held at the University of Ottawa, Kristina decided to look further into the social barriers surrounding prosthetics. With further research, Kristina quickly learned the costly reality of traditional prosthetic hands, especially facing families with growing children. With this information, we felt there was a need for social action and an affordable alternative for amputees in need. So, combining my knowledge of PR and community outreach, and Kristina’s expertise in 3D printing and former experience working with youth, we started the Give Us A Hand Project.

The Give Us A Hand Project has two goals when it comes to social innovation:

1) To teach local youth in ‘disadvantaged’ areas of Ottawa advanced skills in 3D printing through workshops, while simultaneously teaching innovative skills, boosting confidence, and encouraging the importance of giving back.

AND

2) To distribute the 3D printed hands built in these workshops to amputees in need of prosthetics, both within Ottawa and in overseas communities.

Overall, our initiative aims to help communities abroad and at home, using verified prosthetic hand designs provided by Enabling the Future and delivering the hands overseas through another cause, the Prosthetic Kids Hand Challenge. Our first workshops in hand printing will be starting this fall, at The Door Youth Centre in downtown Ottawa.

For both Kristina and I, this project gives us a chance to further explore and apply our individual skill sets through social innovation. As two young females from very different fields of study and interest, this project has also helped us to discover the importance of working outside your ‘comfort zone’.

Our future, and the future of this project, involves raising the funds to print multiple hands in the upcoming months, and to buy a new 3D printer that will allow us to print a larger variety of hands more efficiently. We have also recently teamed up with Graham Spero, a PR student who has been an amputee since birth, who offers an inspiring outlook on “New Ability”. As well, we have teamed up with Go Give Back, an Ottawa start up that offers ‘on the go charity’ through a mobile donation platform.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our project and giving us a ‘hand’ in ‘hand making’, please visit our donation page.

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Semaine éducation médias 2014