Choosing the “right” stroller for a new baby often seems like a daunting task, and mom-to-be Sharina Jones had a unique requirement: the stroller needed to be wheelchair-friendly. Jones, a blogger and disability rights activist who has been a paraplegic since the age of five, wanted to be able to go for walks, dine, and generally manage life with a new baby and a wheelchair. Through a collaborative high school-university learning program that supports STEM research and design projects, Alden Kane, a 16 year-old high school student, was challenged to create a wheelchair that would allow Sharina and her baby to move around as she pleased. Alden took on the task as well as its deadline — the finished product needed to be completed in time for baby’s arrival!
The final stroller design attaches to the front of a wheelchair and uses a regular baby car seat, with baby facing towards mom. After about 15 different initial ideas and many hours spent in a wheelchair to better understand the workings and mobility considerations of a wheelchair, Kane also consulted with Jones on details and logistics such as where a diaper bag would go and how the stroller component could be added or removed. After a trial prototype, the stroller was then constructed from stainless steel piping with connectors with the stroller being easily taken off or attached using a bicycle quick-release mechanism. Jones was thrilled to receive the stroller when her new baby was two weeks-old and has since used it on numerous daily outings. Kane hopes to patent the design and have it mass-produced, helping provide freedom and accessibility for mothers who use wheelchairs around the world.