How a video of a metal puppet hand eventually turned into an idea for accessibility.

This may seem like a story about technology, but it's actually a story about kindness.

This is a cool kid named Ethan.


Image via Upworthy and Dignity Health.

This is his pretty cool hand.

Image via Upworthy and Dignity Health.

And the story behind cool Ethan and his cool hand is one of those stories that makes you say, "I'm really glad to be alive right now because this kind of thing could not have happened at any other point in history."

It's a story about YouTube videos and 3D printers and random Internet connections. But more than that, it's all about how one single act of kindness can lead to another. Which leads to another. Which leads to another.

And before you know it, those kindnesses (along with that technology) can make pretty amazing things happen.

It all started back in 2011.

Check out the video below for the full story, or scroll down to check out the six acts of kindness featured and how it goes beyond just Ethan's story to help hundreds of kids like him.

First act of kindness: Let's make a finger.

A man named Ivan Owen posted a fun video on YouTube of himself wearing a metal puppet hand he had made as a costume. Thousands of miles away, a South African carpenter named Richard who had lost his finger in a woodworking accident saw the video and was intrigued. He reached out to Owen to discuss what he made.

Image via Ivan Owen/YouTube.

The two ended up spending a year collaborating on building a replacement finger.

Second act of kindness: Let's make a hand.

The mother of a 5-year-old boy named Liam heard about their project and asked if they could also try to build a small hand for her son who had been born with no fingers. After a lot of hard work and the idea to use a 3D printer, they ultimately developed the first ever 3D-printed mechanical hand. It was badass, and so was Liam.

Image via MakerBot/YouTube.

Third act of kindness: Let's share what we know.

Here's where it gets even more interesting.

Instead of patenting the design for this new hand (can you imagine how much money they could have made?) in January 2013, Owen generously and unselfishly decided to publish the design files as open-source and public domain so that anyone, anywhere could download the files and use a 3D printer to make the same type of prosthetic.

Fourth act of kindness: Let's connect the dots.

Several months later, a professor named Jon Schull (featured in the video) stumbled upon a video of Liam and his 3D-printed hand and saw that people were leaving comments under it, offering up their own 3D-printing skills to help make more hands.

So Schull came up with bright idea to start a Google+ group and an online map for them to share their locations. That way, people who were seeking prosthetics (namely hands) could find the closest volunteer.

He left a comment on the video and invited people to join him in the Google group and put a "pin" on the map marking their location if (1) they wanted to print hands or (2) they knew where a hand was needed.

Fifth act of kindness: Let's build a community.

Well, it worked. By the end of the first day, there were seven pins. In a few weeks, there were hundreds. And the numbers kept growing and growing.

Image via Upworthy and Dignity Health.

It turns out there weren't just a lot of people in need of prosthetic limbs, but there were a lot of people who were able and willing to make them!

That simple idea grew into what is today known as Enable, a nonprofit organization and community made up of teachers, students, engineers, scientists, doctors, designers, parents, children, artists, philanthropists, coders, and everyone in between creating 3D-printed hands and arms and giving them away to those in need of an upper-limb assistive device ... for free.

Sixth act of kindness: Let's make it free.

That's right. Enable gives away the 3D prosthetics at no cost to the recipient.

Those six kind decisions have now made it possible for hundreds of children to receive prosthetics.

And remember our cool kid Ethan? He was one of them. His mom stumbled upon the community online, reached out, and Enable ultimately helped Ethan get the hand that he now just can't stop showing off.

His story (shown in the video above) isn't just amazing because somehow something positive actually came out of a YouTube comment section. And it wasn't just made possible because of the magic of 3D printing — although that, in and of itself, is pretty awe-inspiring.

It was made possible because of the kindness of the creators in the Enable community whose small devotion of resources and time can make kids like Ethan really, really happy.

More
True
Dignity Health old

If you're a woman and you want to be a CEO, you should probably think about changing your name to "Jeffrey" or "Michael." Or possibly even "Michael Jeffreys" or "Jeffrey Michaels."

According to Fortune, last year, more men named Jeffrey and Michael became CEOs of America's top companies than women. A whopping total of one woman became a CEO, while two men named Jeffrey took the title, and two men named Michael moved into the C-suite as well.

The "New CEO Report" for 2018, which looks at new CEOS for the 250 largest S&P 500 companies, found that 23 people were appointed to the position of CEO. Only one of those 23 people was a woman. Michelle Gass, the new CEO of Kohl's, was the lone female on the list.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

How much of what we do is influenced by what we see on TV? When it comes to risky behavior, Netflix isn't taking any chances.

After receiving a lot of heat, the streaming platform is finally removing a controversial scenedepicting teen suicide in season one of "13 Reasons Why. The decision comes two years after the show's release after statistics reveal an uptick in teen suicide.

"As we prepare to launch season three later this summer, we've been mindful about the ongoing debate around the show. So on the advice of medical experts, including Dr. Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, we've decided with creator Brian Yorkey and the producers to edit the scene in which Hannah takes her own life from season one," Netflix said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture

At Trump's 'Social Media Summit' on Thursday, he bizarrely claimed Arnold Schwarzenegger had 'died' and he had witnessed said death. Wait, what?!


He didn't mean it literally - thank God. You can't be too sure! After all, he seemed to think that Frederick Douglass was still alive in February. More recently, he described a world in which the 1770s included airports. His laissez-faire approach to chronology is confusing, to say the least.

Keep Reading Show less
Democracy

Words matter. And they especially matter when we are talking about the safety and well-being of children.

While the #MeToo movement has shed light on sexual assault allegations that have long been swept under the rug, it has also brought to the forefront the language we use when discussing such cases. As a writer, I appreciate the importance of using varied wording, but it's vital we try to remain as accurate as possible in how we describe things.

There can be gray area in some topics, but some phrases being published by the media regarding sexual predation are not gray and need to be nixed completely—not only because they dilute the severity of the crime, but because they are simply inaccurate by definition.

One such phrase is "non-consensual sex with a minor." First of all, non-consensual sex is "rape" no matter who is involved. Second of all, most minors legally cannot consent to sex (the age of consent in the U.S. ranges by state from 16 to 18), so sex with a minor is almost always non-consensual by definition. Call it what it is—child rape or statutory rape, depending on circumstances—not "non-consensual sex."

Keep Reading Show less
Culture