Heroes

The best new prosthetic for children isn't made from newfangled metals. It's made out of Legos.

A scientist at a Swedish university has developed a prototype for kids to build their own prosthetic limbs and fight disability stigmas at the same time — using Legos.

The best new prosthetic for children isn't made from newfangled metals. It's made out of Legos.

Dario is an 8-year old boy living in Colombia.

GIF from Umeå Institute of Design.


He really really really likes robots.


GIF from Umeå Institute of Design.

He has a congenital malformation in his right forearm, which requires him to wear a prosthetic.

GIF from Umeå Institute of Design.

There are many kids like Dario in Colombia, which inspired industrial designer Carlos Torres to build a new prosthetic just for them.

Having himself been raised in war-torn Colombia, Torres witnessed firsthand how an armed conflict can destroy civilian lives. While Dario was born with his condition, there are hundreds of other children in Colombia who are permanently injured by land mines and other collateral damage from the war each year.

“The needs of a disabled child are many of course," Torres observed in his thesis statement at Sweden's Umeå Institute of Design. “The physiological needs of replacing a lost part of their body is one of the priorities, but taking a look at this phenomena through the eyes of the armed conflict shows that the psychosocial needs are a big part of a person in disability."


GIF from Umeå Institute of Design.

Torres' new prototype allows kids to hack, create, and customize their own prosthetic limbs ... with Legos.

Torres is hardly the first person to implement the educational value of Legos in a practical application, but his method is certainly unique. With support from Lego and CIREC, a Colombian nonprofit that supports people with disabilities and victims of armed conflict, he developed a Lego-integrated prototype called the IKO prosthetic system (which, as Carlos explained via email, "is the way that little kids say Me in the Netherlands").

Visible disabilities can have a serious impact on kids' socialization and self-esteem — and, by extension, their overall psychological development. But like any good engineer, Torres did his due diligence and organized a series of controlled experiments to observe Dario's socialization and self-esteem in relation to his friends and family while using the IKO prototype to build Lego attachments on his arm.


GIF from Umeå Institute of Design.

The IKO prosthetic also encourages confidence and creativity while fighting back against disability stigmas.

In both situations, Dario's improved confidence was readily apparent. He was warm, welcoming, and collaborative, and he easily transitioned into a leadership role, as if having the Lego set attached to his body gave him a feeling of ownership and pride. There were still some difficulties, of course, but at no point did he seem frustrated or ready to give up. In fact, his school friend Santiago, after previously expressing pity for Dario's condition, began to envy his friend's new toy: “I want one of those. I think his new arm is cool!"


GIF from Umeå Institute of Design.

(Admittedly, Santiago may not have grasped the full complexity of the situation. But it's still a nice thought.)

This is just one piece of a larger project that looks into the developmental psychology of children who were born with a missing limb or have since lost one.

It's difficult for children with disabilities to develop alongside their peers when they have to compensate for anxiety and a feeling of otherness. While the IKO prototype is currently designed only for upper limb disabilities, it still goes a long way toward restoring not only the practical functionality of a missing or malformed limb, but also a child's confidence, by encouraging their educational development through creative exploration.

Frankly, what kid wouldn't want a cybernetic Lego arm attachment?


GIF from "The Lego Movie."

In his preliminary interviews, 8-year-old Dario makes it clear that he does not like superheroes. Yes, he loves adventure stories, but he prefers machinery, robots, and spaceships to chiseled men with superhuman abilities. In this way, Dario is a lot like Emmet from "The Lego Movie," in his quest to become "The Special." It doesn't matter that the prophecy of "The Special" isn't true — all Emmet needs to become a hero is for someone to show him that he can be one.

For Dario, his favorite stories allow him to see a reflection of himself and the actualization of his own potential. The IKO prosthetic system is just another way to help him and other kids like him get there.


GIF from "The Lego Movie."

Watch the full video from Carlos Arturo Torres' prototype project below:

True

This year more than ever, many families are anticipating an empty dinner table. Shawn Kaplan lived this experience when his father passed away, leaving his mother who struggled to provide food for her two children. Shawn is now a dedicated volunteer and donor with Second Harvest Food Bank in Middle Tennessee and encourages everyone to give back this holiday season with Amazon.

Watch the full story:

Over one million people in Tennessee are at risk of hunger every day. And since the outbreak of COVID-19, Second Harvest has seen a 50% increase in need for their services. That's why Amazon is Delivering Smiles and giving back this holiday season by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Second Harvest to feed those hit the hardest this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local food bank or charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your selected charity.

Acts of kindness and compassion are always inspiring. A veterinarian gave a different spin on the phrase "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

The poor little pup in this video walked into this shelter with a history of being abused. He was so traumatized that he wasn't eating. The vet treating him wasn't sure what to do, so he decided to book a table for two: a the dog's place. It is not clear whether he got an official invite from the canine in question, but he felt pretty safe about showing up unannounced. He walked into the cage and sat down next to the dog. With his back up against the corner of his new (and hopefully temporary) domain, the rescue stared apprehensively at his human guest. The vet presented a dog dish with food and put it in front of the dog. The frightened pup just looked at the dish and made no attempt to eat. Then he broke out another dog dish identical to the one he just gave to his four-legged patient and started eating out of that bowl. And then came the turning point.


Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
Anne Owens and Luke Redito / Wikimedia Commons
True

When Madeline Swegle was a little girl growing up in Burke, VA, she loved watching the Blue Angels zip through the sky. Her family went to see the display every time it was in town, and it was her parents' encouragement to pursue her dreams that led her to the U.S. Naval Academy in 2017.

Before beginning the intense three-year training required to become a tactical air (TACAIR) pilot, Swegle had never been in an aircraft before; piloting was simply something she was interested in. It turns out she's got a gift for it—and not only is she skilled, she finds the "exhilaration to be unmatched."

"I'm excited to have this opportunity to work harder and fly high performance jet aircraft in the fleet," Swegle said in a statement released by the Navy. "It would've been nice to see someone who looked like me in this role; I never intended to be the first. I hope it's encouraging to other people."

As Swegle's story shows, representation and equality matter. And the responsibility to advance equality for all people - especially Black Americans facing racism - falls on individuals, organizations, businesses, and governmental leadership. This clear need for equality is why P&G established the Take On Race Fund to fight for justice, advance economic opportunity, enable greater access to education and health care, and make our communities more equitable. The funds raised go directly into organizations like NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, YWCA Stand Against Racism and the United Negro College Fund, helping to level the playing field.

Keep Reading Show less

Do you know that guy who has never had an issue with his TV/internet provider? Neither do I. If you claim you have never had issues with your bill going up without warning, then you are either lying or you own the cable company. Jake Lawson apparently does not own a cable company, and was prepared to communicate his frustrations regarding his bill in a most creative way.

First off, Jake understands what everyone should realize. The customer service representative doesn't own the cable company either, so yelling at someone who is just trying to make a living like all of us is not the answer. Their job is hard enough as it is so give them a break. Jake gave them more than a break. He gave them a song.


Keep Reading Show less