CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Students at UNC Charlotte have started a club that uses 3D printers to build prosthetic arms for children.
The group, called Helping Hand, was founded at UNC Chapel Hill and just launched at UNCC, with more than 30 active members from every department and major.
“I knew I had the opportunity to start an impactful group,” club founder Jeff Powell said. “When you actually get to see the smiling faces when the kids get the device and you see their parents being happy and hopeful it makes all of the work more than worth it.”
The UNCC chapter has already created and distributed recreational prosthetics to three families.
“it truly makes a difference,” chapter president and UNCC senior Henry Weaver said. “Everyone brings their own aspects to the club. It’s something everyone can connect to.”
The prosthetics are personalized for each child. One even has a fidget spinner add-on.
The club is backed by dedicated staff members.
“When you bring together people that have design skills and development skills and engineering skills and computing skills you can make magic happen,” professor David Wilson said. “It’s the best thing ever to me.”
“It's exactly the opposite of what you think a millennial would do,” assistant professor Richard Chi said. “To put the hours, to show that they have the drive and the dedication to create something for someone else.”
For Chi, the mission is personal.
“Our unborn child was diagnosed with a limb difference,” he said. “That’s what led me to try to build [a prosthetic].”
That’s how he got involved with the Helping Hand project as an advisor to the students.
“You and feel empowerment that you physically can do something to impact a child's life,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
Now all the hours put in learning and creating are paying off.
In September, the students were able to donate a prosthetic, in person, to a local family.
Turns out you don’t have to look far to find a helping hand.
“it's not until you see the excitement and amazement in a child's or a family’s eyes, that you really understand what it's all about,” Wilson smiled.
You can follow Helping Hand on Facebook by clicking here.
The group has also launched a crowdfunding campaign to sustain their efforts. Helping Hand is a registered 501©3 nonprofit.