As the Roaring Riptide 4118 FIRST Robotics coach,  Leigh Anne Brewster sees the power of engaging high-school and university students in community impact initiatives. Since 2017, Leigh Anne and her students at P.K Young School have regularly hosted or assisted with toy adapt-a-thons, Go-Baby-Go projects, specific assistive tech device builds with ATMakers as well as Magic Wheelchair projects

news clip photo of roaring riptides building magic wheehair themed as paw patrol

Leigh Anne’s students are passionate about helping people with disabilities and find their work to be extremely rewarding. Recently, the Roaring Riptide team added another national community impact project to their partner list; they are now an official chapter of Makers Making Change!

What is Makers Making Change?

Makers Making Change pairs makers to people with disabilities who need access to low cost assistive devices. Their website hosts a Project Library of open source devices that includes material lists, design files, and instructions for building DIY assistive technologies. Some projects in the library include switches for electronic devices like accessible gaming, AAC devices and toys. The library also has files to create simple eating and grooming aids for daily life. One of the highest tech projects is the LipSync; a mouth controlled sip and puff mouse. On,  makers can volunteer their times and skills, and requesters can request devices for only the cost of materials. In order to read more about how our site works on our Roles and Responsibilities page.

Leigh Anne explains her teams motivations and experience with assistive technologies;

“My high school First Robotics Team, Roaring Riptide and all of the STEM classes I teach at P.K. Yonge DR are passionate about helping people. We already have experience with adapting toys at ATMaker events as well as having presented at regional and international AT conferences, such as the ATIA conference in Orlando for the last 3 years!”

With all their previous community impact experience, Makers Making Change is a perfect match for their groups passion and skill set.

Makers Making Change. A Neil Squire Program



Spreading the Word with the #FIRSTwithAT Initiative

The Roaring Riptide team wants everyone to be able to access assistive devices. On their own initiative, the team created a DIY Toy Hack Kit (pictured above), with the supplies and directions required to take a toy and adapt it to be accessible.

plastic kit with toy hacking supplies

The #TidalwaveofAT kit includes parts, a toy hack guide (created in collaboration with FIRST FRC Team 6413: Degrees of Freedom)  as well as a switch build instructions from Makers Making Change on how to build a Raindrop Switch. This kit can be ordered from the Roaring Riptides website

The goal of #FIRSTwithAT and #TidalwaveofAT  projects are to act as a catalyst by providing resources to First Robotics Club teams. The secondary goal of the project is to connect FRC teams with AT professionals in their community.

Over the years, Leigh Anne and her students have participated in 15 events and adapted approximately 600 devices for people with disabilities!

Roaring Riptide hosted their first Makers Making Change Raindrop Switch Build and Toy Adapt-a-Thon in December 2019, where they worked with other high-school teams to adapt approximately 80 toys as well as prepared 115 switches. The toys and switches were distributed to Sydney Lanier School and Littlewood Elementary School, both located within the Alachua County Public Schools.

First Robotics students building colorful 3D printed switches at a toy hack eevnt

Growing the Gainesville Chapter

At the ATIA conference in February 2020, the Roaring Riptide participated in several activities including a soldering booth to teach disability professionals how to build their own DIY access switches. Working together with Makers Making Change staff, Roaring Riptide mentored disability professionals to create over 110 switches to use with their clients! 

The team also demonstrated their community impact at a poster session where they showcased several projects the team participates in such as the Intellikeys project with ATmakers, as well as their adapted toy hack and switch build projects with AT Makers and Makers Making Change! 

Other projects on display included several personal AT projects students have taken on. One student, Jackson Fugate showcased his accessible keyboard and mouse he designed for a person with cerebral palsy. At the end of the conference, Jackson met up with a device requester to try his first prototype.

Needless to say, if anyone needs a request fulfilled in Florida, the students of Roaring Riptide have your back!

What’s Next for Makers Making Change Gainesville?

Through their connections with ATMakers, ATIA, Makers Making Change, and Regional AT Specialists. The team aims to present to more high-school robotics teams and AT Specialists about their work.   

The team is currently working on two individualized AT project requests they’ve received through their online request portal on their website –  (a communication project and the other is for a switch-adapted guitar) as well as 2 requests through Makers Making Change (a braille keyboard overlay and a voice switch)

They would love for people to reach out to us to share their story and allow our students to share theirs so add them on Facebook, Instagram or TwitterThey also hope that others are inspired by their work and feel the same drive to help others!

Join the Florida Chapter of Makers Making Change!

You don’t have to be a first robotics team member to join!

Volunteer as a Maker: 

  • Volunteer your skills in 3D printing, 3D modelling, laser cutting, designing, soldering, problem solving, event planning, community organizing
  • Help people in your community to live more independently
  • Submit your assistive device designs to our open source library 
  • Explore new skills/possible career paths and make for a purpose
  • Create a new community driven model of distribution

Request a Device:

  • Request a device for only the cost of materials(and shipping)
  • Make connections to people who care in your community

Sign up now!

  • Go to and sign up! Make sure to click to sign up for our mailing list so you can also hear about events and workshops. 
  • Activate your account. Check your junk mail and click ‘not junk/mark as safe’ 
  • Fill out your skills and interests and add a profile photo if you like!
  • Request a Device from our Projects Library. Browse or Search the library, and when you find a device you need,click ‘request’ and type in details in the form. We will do our best to match you up with a volunteer maker in your area!