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It’s “Measuring Day” for Western New York and Ghanaian children’s new 3-D printed hands

Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News

Tuesday marked the third “Measuring Day” for WNY STEM Hub’s Hand in Hand program. Three Western New York children and two more in Ghana were measured for 3-D printed prosthetic hands, which they will receive in October.

Hand in Hand was founded in 2017 with support from AT&T. The program engages local middle and high school students, who gain experience in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) and learn how to use open source software and 3-D printers in order to build the prosthetic hands.

“Our students learn much more than technical skills,” said Dr. Joe Zawicki, president of WNY STEM Hub. “They also learn leadership, service, disability awareness and the power of technology to change lives in a positive way.”

Dr. Zawicki said Hand in Hand has worked with about 150 students from urban school districts—mostly Buffalo and Cheektowaga—so far. The program has built 14 prosthetic hands, including five that went to children in India and Ghana.

Now, the partnership with Ghana is set to expand: Dr. Zawicki announced Tuesday that WNY STEM Hub will support the creation of a standalone Hand in Hand program in Ghana. He said the organization is planning and fundraising for two trips to Ghana in January and July 2020 that will be led by Ed Hawkins, the lead Hand in Hand instructor and a technology teacher at Sweet Home Senior High School.

Eleven-year-old Nile from Buffalo is one of the Western New York recipients of a new prosthetic hand this year. She wore a pink Nike t-shirt and held her old prosthetic arm in her lap while Felice Masumbuko, 17, took measurements of both of her arms.

Credit Kyle S. Mackie/WBFO News
Hand in Hand student participants learn about the STEM fields and use 3-D printers to make prosthetic hands for disabled children.

“I think it’s going to move!” Nile told WBFO when asked about what’s going to be different about her new hand. “This one doesn’t move right now. I can’t hold on to things.”

Andrea Attfield, the mother of another recipient—3-year-old Ava from East Aurora—is also thinking about the new possibilities her daughter will have once she gets the new hand.

“When she bikes she uses one hand and she does great, but to have the opportunity to be able to steer with both sides is incredible.”

The third recipient from Western New York is 6-year-old K’hani from Rochester. His mom, Marcella Singletary, said K’hani lost his fingers as a premature newborn while still in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

“I’m very excited, and I’m happy for him because I didn’t really see another option,” she said. “It’s a blessing for him to be here and to get this opportunity.”

Kyle Mackie is a multimedia journalist with reporting experience in Israel and the Palestinian territories, the Western Balkans and New York City. She joined WBFO to cover education and more in June 2019.
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