How a teen inventor designed an incredible stroller for a mom who uses a wheelchair
Trips to the park or the library are outings many new moms dream about. Sharina Jones is no exception.
While the Michigan resident has plenty in common with most new moms, there's something that sets her apart: Jones lost the use of her legs in a shooting incident when she was just 5 years old. She's relied on a wheelchair ever since.
Jones never lets her wheelchair hold her back.
She is a woman on the go, energetic and cheerful with a bubbly personality — so much so that she decided to share her optimism with the world.
"I felt like taking that energy and just making it positive for everyone else," Jones told Upworthy. "I wanted everybody to wake up like I wake up in the morning."
She started designing motivational apparel, published an autobiography, and launched a group called Think Beyond the Chair, which provides resources, support, and social events for people with disabilities. She was even crowned Ms. Wheelchair Michigan in 2011.
But as a new mom, one task eluded her: She couldn't use a conventional stroller while pushing her own wheelchair.
When she discovered she was pregnant, Jones reached out to Kelsey Kleimola, a mother of two and fellow former Ms. Wheelchair Michigan, for advice on finding a stroller.
Kleimola referred Jones to Dr. Darrell Kleinke, a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy who works with high school students to conduct engineering research projects, some of which are designed to meet the needs of people with disabilities.
Jones was paired with Alden Kane, a high school senior with a passion for problem-solving.
The two met and discussed Jones' needs. "Talking to her was a big help," Kane told The Michigan Catholic, as Jones was able to explain what kind of workability she needed, where a diaper bag should go so she could reach it, how to unhook the stroller from the chair, and how she would move around in the chair.
Kane began with 15 designs. After six months of prototyping, research, and experiments after school, he hoed in on one made of stainless steel piping.
The stroller attaches to the wheelchair using quick-release valves, similar to the mechanism used on a bicycle.
The wheelchair guides the stroller forward, with the carrier held tight up top:
Kane completed the device right on time: just four weeks after Jones' son, Grover, arrived.
And Jones is overjoyed with the finished product.
"I do love my stroller," Jones said. "It's definitely made life easier for our family."
The device is the first of its kind. Jones and Kane are already working together on the next generation of the stroller, which Grover can use as he gets bigger. Jones is also working on some inventions of her own, which she hopes to share with the public soon.
For now, Jones is as busy as ever and enjoying her new title: Mom.
"I love waking up and seeing his little face," she said. "There's just nothing like it."