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
Instagram / Jameela Jamil

Being a celebrity must suck, because you can't talk about personal decisions without everyone feeling they need to have their say. However, some celebrities just don't care what the haters think and are going to live their lives how they see fit. Nobody does it better than actress and activist Jameela Jamil.

Earlier this year, Jamil revealed she had an abortion seven years ago. "I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn't want, and wasn't ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel," she wrote on Twitter. Jamil decided to reveal her abortion after Georgia's controversial fetal heartbeat abortion law was passed.

RELATED: Jameela Jamil wants women to stop apologizing for 'being ambitious'

Now, Jamil says she's living her best life, because her decision was not a "mistake" – even if other people see it that way.

"Receiving THOUSANDS of messages about how I made a mistake having an abortion 7 years ago and how I must be a miserable person. I am in fact a happy, thriving multi millionaire, madly in love, with free time, good sleep and a wonderful career and life. But thanks for checking," the "Good Place" actress wrote on Twitter.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture
via @ResistMoveTRM / Twitter

The number of people dying from drug overdoses in the U.S. is staggering. In 2017, 70,237 people died from drug overdoses, 47,600 of those were from opioids.

According to the CDC, that number has increased over five times since 1999. Since 2011, an alarming number of opioid deaths have been caused by fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid.

Keep Reading Show less
Family

Image by Brent Connelly from Pixabay and sixthformpoet / Twitter

Twitter user Matt, who goes by the name @SixthFormPoet, shared a dark love story on Twitter that's been read by nearly 600,000 people. It starts in a graveyard and feels like it could be the premise for a Tim Burton film.

While it's hard to verify whether the story is true, Matt insists that it's real, so we'll believe him.

Keep Reading Show less
Culture