Rishab Jain, a junior at American Heritage School in Plantation, three years ago began a community service project that uses 3D printing technology to create prosthetic limbs for people around the world.
In January, he helped a 7-year-old boy hold a water bottle and drink using a Spider-Man-themed prosthetic hand.
“Some exciting news for my community service project,” Rishab, who goes by RJ, said in an email. “I helped my first patient and now friend. He was so ecstatic to use his first prosthetic hand and right away you could see him smiling and drinking water, playing with a baseball bat, and learning how to use the hand. He is also starting public school for the first time and I am glad he has a superhero hand to show off to his new friends.”
“It was a truly a gratifying experience and I can’t wait to meet him again and see his progress with his new hand,” RJ said. He will continue to update the hand as the boy grows and maintain their connection as friends.
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RJ is a chapter president of the global NGO called E-nable the Future. The first customized hand he created was for Roger Inuma, a child in Peru. Since he received the new arm, RJ said, “Roger has used it to advance in ways he could not have otherwise imagined.” He and his volunteer classmates have provided 3D printed prosthetic hands for people in Peru and India.
RJ is trying to expand the project to help even more people. Over three days, in November 2017, he worked with a team of engineers in Khandwa, India to help fit over 40 patients with prosthetic hands and motorized arms.
This summer RJ is planning another outreach mission. He will travel to Bombay, India to work with over 100 patients. He said he also is experimenting with a new hand design that incorporates motors and a computer chip to control the fingers.
“The technology of 3D printing prosthetics comes as close as possible to replicating the experience of having a human limb by using PLA and flexible filament in order to match skin color and human feel,” RJ said. He said the use of 3D printers has decreased the price of manufacturing a prosthetic arm and has lowered the cost from $20,000 for a medically approved cosmetic arm to under $100.
He said he is also working to build a network of youth leaders “who can combine engineering ingenuity and leadership skills.” RJ said he hopes to “pool resources and strengthen a network of high school students to take advantage of the technology that 3D printing offers.”
“There is a great need for inexpensive, functional upper limb assistive devices,” he said. He welcomes students who are interested to join him. Also, everyone can learn more, and support RJ’s efforts, by writing him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can see accomplishments and photos at link3dhands.com/milestones.
Miami resident Jaie Laplante, executive director of Miami Dade College's Miami Film Festival, will receive quite an honor May 3 when he is recognized by Spain’s King Felipe VI with the "Knight's Grand Cross of the Order of Isabella the Catholic" for his contribution of bringing Spanish film, and films in Spanish, to Florida.
"I am deeply honored to receive this royal recognition for my many decades of admiration for and devotion to the cinema of Spain. Since becoming director of Miami Dade College's Miami Film Festival in 2010, this has only given me more opportunities to share the art of Spain in its many nuances and wonderful forms," Laplante said in an email.
The community leader, who is also an actor and screenwriter, said he never expected to receive such news.
"I have enjoyed Spanish film all my life, since I was a teenager in Canada," the Canadian American said.
Spain's consulate in Miami said Laplante "has significantly restructured the personality of the festival's program, deepening the festival's commitment to being a main portal in the United States for emerging directors in Spain and Latin America."
The 35th edition of the festival in March featured a total of 148 films from 50 countries, the last of these was the Spanish comedy "Que baje Dios y lo vea," by Curro Velazquez, which closed the event.
The Order of Isabella the Catholic is a Spanish civil order in which “membership is granted in recognition of services that benefit the country.” In addition to honored Spaniards, The Order has been awarded to many foreigners. It was created March 14, 1815, by King Ferdinand VII in honor of Queen Isabella I.
Phillip M. Church, associate professor of theater at Florida International University and founding artistic director of What if Works, recently paid a surprise visit to the theater students at Miami Coral Park High School.
With the support of PTA students from Thespian Troupe #0063 who raised $4,000, 16 aspiring actors were able to attend this year’s Florida State Thespian Conference in Tampa. What if Works helped them achieve their goal by contributing $1,000.
Coral Park was one of four Miami-Dade County schools to participate in What if Works’ production of “The R+J Effect,” a modern version of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” that addresses youth and gun violence.
“Good deeds never go unnoticed,” said Church in an email. “We saw their ‘Snap Raise’ campaign and the struggle they were experiencing in raising the money. Spontaneous giving is part of What if Works’ mantra. These students deserve the support. It is wonderful to see young people recognize an ideal and do everything in their power to see that ideal realized.”
To learn more about What if Works go to www.whatifworks.com.