A group of seven students in Scarsdale High School’s advanced topics in entrepreneurship class won a $5,000 grant from the Wells Fargo No Barriers Global Impact Challenge for their creation of an adaptive shirt and circuit, which they will be presenting at the No Barriers Summit in Lake Tahoe, California.
In a partnership with the Sunshine Children’s Home & Rehab Center in Ossining, the students collaboratively engineered a shirt that is both accessible and comfortable for children with disabilities.
“When we thought about what we wanted to tackle in terms of problems, we really felt it was important for our students to understand how important it is to make a difference in the world,” said Lisa Yokana, who co-teaches the class with Brian McDonald. “That’s incredibly empowering for a student to see that they can make something that makes someone else’s life better.”
After visiting the rehabilitation center, the students and teachers formulated the idea of a wearable product to assist the needs of both the children and their caretakers. The shirt includes an integrated waterproof material near the collar, zippers and buttons so the wearer can be dressed while lying down, and strips of conductive fabric on the lower back so caretakers are aware of when the wearer moves out of position.
“We all were just really focused on providing these students with the dignity they deserve,” said SHS senior Tanner Zachem. “We want to do everything we can to allow these kids to be as comfortable as they can be and to decrease the stress and the cognitive load on the teachers so they can do the best job that they can do.”
The seven SHS students will continue working on their adaptive clothing during the senior options term this spring, and hope to use the grant money to expand on their design and formulate a manufacturing plan.
They are planning to work with Tommy Hilfiger’s new adaptive clothing line to source materials and “keep reiterating their prototype until they have a very good final iteration of it,” said Yokana. “Hopefully we’ll work with Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive to run a small batch of the shirts.”
The SHS advanced topics in entrepreneurship class has also provided students with inspiration on what they want to do in the future, whether that be design, engineering, or a combination of the two.
“I personally am planning on majoring in engineering in college,” said SHS senior Nayumi Parente Ribeiro. “These electives have really helped me realize that I have a passion for it.”
The students were surprised to find out they were the winners, and are grateful they will have the ability to continue working on their project to make a positive impact.
“I was in shock, like I didn’t know what to say,” said senior Christine Lambert who will be attending Cornell University for engineering in the fall. “It’s so cool, this class where we’re designing things for kids that live like 20 minutes from here. It used to be … just us and them and now we’re on this global stage and we’re actually going to be able to pursue our product during our senior options and present it in front of a huge audience.”
Wells Fargo and No Barriers will be flying the students to the No Barriers Summit on June 13 to 15 to present their adaptive clothing model and bring industry leaders into the conversation.
“We are basically teaching social entrepreneurship because all our students are in teams and they are creating products that also have a business model and could be successful ventures,” said Yokana. “It’s not enough to just make more stuff, we have to teach students to make stuff that makes a difference.”