Here’s how a teen went about making a new hand for his brother.

Best older brother ever.

Gabriel Filippini wanted to surprise his little brother, Lucas, with something extra special for his 6th birthday.

Photo by Gabriel Filippini, used with permission.


Lucas was born without a hand, so Gabriel thought he'd find a way to make him a prosthetic one.

Fortunately, his high school in Virginia just so happened to have recently purchased a 3D printer.


An Afinia printer in action, similar to the one Gabriel's school bought. Image via Afinia3DPrint/YouTube.

"Lucas can do everything he wants with one hand, but I wanted to see what he could do with two," Gabriel told Upworthy.

Gabriel spoke with his CTE (Career Technology Education) teacher, Kurt O'Connor, at Park View High School, about using the 3D printer for this rather complicated endeavor.

"I didn't think it was impossible, but I did see some challenges. Honestly the 3D printing world is rather knew to me, and I have spent the last year learning more about it," O'Connor admitted to Upworthy.

O'Connor was not about to put limitations on what his students could do, so together, he and Gabriel came up with a plan.

They decided to reach out to a company called e-Nable or Enabling the Future — a global organization made up of volunteers who help teach people how to create prosthetic hands using 3D printing.

Yup, that's a Wonder Woman prosthetic arm. This girl is badass. Photo from E-Nable/Facebook, used with permission.

Once e-Nable got them set up with DIY tutorials and design patterns for the prosthetic, O'Connor and Gabriel got to work.

The project was not without its challenges.

"One of the biggest challenges Mr. O'Conner and I had was the joints," Gabriel explained. "They had to be flexible in order for the fingers to bend. When we printed the joints for the first time, they were stiff."

To solve this problem, O'Connor reached out to Makersmith, a company that specializes in teaching kids how to build things, to help them print new joints that were more flexible.

The Raptor Design. Enable the Future.

The first hand they created ended up too big. Luckily, thanks to the 3D printing technology, they were able to scale down the design without too much fuss and print a new one that fit properly.

When Lucas's 6th birthday rolled around in June 2016, he was ecstatic to receive such a thoughtful gift from his older brother.

Lucas gripping a box with his new hand! Photo by Gabriel Filippini, used with permission.

While Gabriel couldn't be there to give Lucas the hand in person (he was out of state on a trip), he was able to FaceTime to see his brother with the new hand. Their mom told Gabriel how excited Lucas was, immediately wanting to pick things up with the new hand. According to his brother, he's most looking forward to learning how to tie his own shoes using two hands.

This amazing moment of giving the gift of double handedness was brought to you by a brother's love and the ability to think outside the box.

Both O'Connor and Gabriel would love to keep working on helping hand projects like this.

Photo by Enable the Future.

"I'd love to help more kids in need. Park View High School is actually considering registering with e-Nable to help other kids in our community and other communities," Gabriel said.

"After completing this project and seeing the impact we have had on this little boy's life, I am definitely going to bring this into the classroom," O'Connor said.

As a result of this project, the Loudoun County Public School has created an initiative called One to the World, which O'Connor says will "[challenge] teachers to develop and deliver real-world applications to students."

The simple message here is if you can dream it, you can do it. And if you can dream something that will improve someone else's life, even better.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

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Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

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A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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