e-NABLE club lends a helping hand

By Renato DiStefano, Staff Reporter

Whether it be 3D printing prosthetic hands or assembling prosthetics for a national organization, the e-NABLE club at Conestoga is hard at work trying to make a positive difference in their community and nation.

Started two years ago by junior club president Aashna Rana, the e-NABLE club is a chapter of the national e-NABLE organization, “a global network of passionate volunteers using 3D printing to give the world a helping hand,” according to their website.

“I wanted to help people, and this was the perfect chance for me to do so and help students with a similar interest become involved as well,” Rana said.

Using the special 3D printers at ’Stoga, the club focuses on printing and assembling prosthetic hands. After the prosthetic hands are assembled, the finished product is sent in to the national e-NABLE organization in order to be distributed to the patients who need them.

The e-NABLE club at Conestoga is “just going to keep with the plan that we have right now, which is making hands, because there’s such a need,” faculty adviser Malia Gordon said. “The students here at the club are really good at doing it.”

This year, however, marked a significant step forward for the club. In March, the club met its first recipient, 8-year-old Savannah Waldron-Kim from New Jersey.

“Savannah was born with a thumb and pinky that never fully developed,” Rana said. “She can do most things that other kids can do though and (she enjoys) learning about e-NABLE’s mission and (the prosthetics).” A conference held by the Helping Hands Foundation for individuals with upper limb differences first introduced Waldron-Kim’s parents to the idea of 3D printed hand prosthetics. They then received information about the Conestoga chapter of e-NABLE through Shriner’s Hospital in Philadelphia.

“Since connecting with the Conestoga chapter of e-NABLE, we’ve been excited about the process of developing the hand for (my daughter),” Jennifer Waldron said. “Recently, I brought (her) to Conestoga High School to meet with the e-NABLE club. (She) had the opportunity to work with the members of the club to build part of her 3D hand, which was also a great experience for her.”

Waldron is content with the way the club has handled printing the 3D hand for her daughter.

“The plan is for Savannah’s hand to be complete by the end of this school year,” Waldron said. “She is also very excited to share the finished hand with her second grade class, who have been following the progress of the hand through (her) updates.”

Through bake sales and a GoFundMe page, Conestoga’s e-NABLE has been raising money in order to print more hands and help more recipients. However, Gordon is concerned that lack of money may hinder the clubs goal to print more 3D prosthetics.

“I think the biggest issue that we’ve had is just really having enough money to buy the materials, because they can be pretty expensive,” Gordon said. “And since the number of bake sales we can have is limited, it just really depends on how much money we have.”

Rana, Gordon and the other club members are hopeful that Shriner’s will send more patient referrals to the club, but for now are focused on assembling as many hands as possible.

“It’s just really a matter of finding someone who needs a hand and then being able to provide it to them,” Gordon said.