Little girl can sit up next to her friends for the first time

A University of Wales Trinity Saint David graduate has helped created a specialist chair that allows a seven year old girl to sit, play and eat alongside her family and friends for the first time.

Evie Hopkins, from Swansea, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, spastic quadriplegia when she was four months old. The condition affects her right side. She is unable to sit independently without tipping over, which affects her confidence and causes her anxiety. It has meant she missed out on meals out, playing with her brothers and sisters, trips to the beach and friends’ birthday parties.

Keira Gwynn, a graduate of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD), has designed a specialist chair for Evie called the Scallop in collaboration with R82, a Danish company which produces specialist high quality aids designed for children and teenagers with disabilities all over the world.

Evie’s mum, Karen said the the Scallop had been life changing for Evie. “She is now able to actively participate in many activities which weren’t previously possible. She sits in the Scallop on a normal chair at the table and plays a variety of games with her brothers and sisters. It’s so lovely to see her finally doing that.”

Karen said Evie loves playing computer games with her brothers, and for the first time ever she can sit on the floor with confidence. She said “Evie is able to concentrate on what she is doing rather than worrying and panicking about whether she is able to maintain position.”

Evie has also been able to use the Scallop in school and it is particularly useful during circle time and music. Her mum said “Previously, Evie would be sitting in her wheelchair or specialist seat and would be on a higher level than her friends, who would sit on the carpet. Now Evie is sat on the floor alongside them all, playing instruments and talking, which makes her feel fully included.”

The school has reported that Evie “is more engaged”.

Evie had been unable to go to some of her friend’s birthday parties due to limited space. Her mum explained “Evie is a popular child in her class and is invited to all birthday parties. Previously I have had to vet the venues for access and particularly the seating arrangements. Whether Evie is able to attend the party or not, was based on my findings. Recently, Evie was invited to two birthday parties, one at the cinema and one more traditional, at her friend’s home. Evie used the Scallop in both. The more limited room in her friend’s house was not an issue since she sat at the table with her friends in her Scallop. And it was the same successful outcome at the cinema.”

The Scallop has also been useful for when the family had meals out and Karen said it had been “an absolute pleasure” when they went to the beach.

Evie said she “likes sitting up on her own!…because I can do it myself and don’t need you to do it for me!” She said her favourite thing about the Scallop is “sitting on the floor playing Fifa with Joseph and Ethan”, adding that she likes taking the Scallop to school because she can sit close to her friends.

Keira Gwynn, who now works for R82 in Denmark as a Creative Graphics/Product Designer, said “The Scallop project developed from seeing a real life problem in a common family situation. I worked closely with the family throughout the developing stages of the project at UWTSD observing and analysing what problems needed to be overcome within this project. Once I had gathered a lot of research and gained the understanding of what I wanted the product to achieve, I started making a lot of cardboard, paper and plastic sketch models, close to a hundred I think, all different shapes and sizes. I used this method as it was important for me to feel and understand the shape of the product, it allowed me to make very fast decisions in whether the shape provided the correct support or not.”

She said studying product design at UWTSD had taught her to gather research, analyse and use it creatively to solve real life problems. She said “These skills enabled me to create a product that not only solved a problem for one particular family’s needs but many. I created an inclusive product that could be used by a variety of users from children with special needs to adults who just need a comfortable floor sitter. The project caught the attention of a company called R82 and before I knew it I was developing the project further during my MA degree at UWTSD in connection with R82.”

Dr Sean Jenkins, Head of Design & Applied Arts at Swansea College of Art, said “Keira’s fantastic achievement has already left a positive mark on children and families using the product and seeing Evie using SCALLOP with her family is an exceptionally humbling experience which has inspired our next generation of product designers here at UWTSD Swansea College of Art.”

Rasmus Theilmann, Head of R&D at R82, said “Having seen Keira´s dedication to the Scallop project and her cooperation with the rest of the R82 project team, to transform the concept into a product ready for serial production and market launch, we decided to offer Keira a full-time position at R82 in Denmark within the R&D and Marketing department.”

This article was updated on August 28th 2018 was updated to state the source from the South Wales Evening Post (now  WalesOnline) is no longer available.

Free WordPress Themes, Free Android Games