The amount of cardboard boxes we discard on a nearly daily basis is overwhelming. I bring them home from Costco full of oversized boxes of food. They come in the mail packed with birthday presents for my girls, prescription medicines for my daughter with cystic fibrosis, and even the mattresses we recently purchased. We recycle them of course, but donating them to the Adaptive Design Association would have been an even better option than I could have ever imagined. To the Adaptive Design Association, cardboard creates independence and life.
According to their web site, the Adaptive Design Association’s mission is to “engage families, schools, and communities in the process of designing and building responsible, child-specific, adaptive equipment. The goal of this collaborative effort is to make certain that children with disabilities get the devices and modifications they need to achieve their full developmental, social, and academic potential.” Much of this work is achieved through the amazing, versatile use of cardboard.
From Building Boxes to Caring Chairs to Totestools, cardboard is making a world of difference to children with special needs in an ecofriendly, cost-effective way. Imagine not being able to reach the table when seated on the average chair, or not being able to get to the sink to brush your teeth. These are challenges the children with special needs face on a daily basis. They are the everyday tasks and abilities that most of us take for granted. There are children who cannot learn simply because they cannot reach their desk. And cardboard changes all of that. It’s so simple yet so unbelievably innovative.
Hannah, who has cerebral palsy, has used a custom chair for eating, a custom prone stander with an easel, a customized tricycle and a scooter along with 22 other items made just for her so that she can participate in life comfortably and actively. Jared, a little person, had 18 items created for him that allowed him to participate and learn better at school including a bench adaptation for the cafeteria, custom chairs and steps for the bathroom sink. And Raven who has caudal regression syndrome (her lower trunk and legs did not fully develop), is benefiting from eleven pieces of equipment including classroom chairs, a floor seat and desk, scooters and portable steps.
If you are interested in learning more about creating adaptive equipment from cardboard, visit the association’s web site or visit them at their New York City location.