As a President of the Valley Maker Association, Ryan Hall isn’t a stranger to engaging makers in community focused projects. In 2016, their group created Little Free Libraries which were donated to literacy volunteers in the community. Next, in 2017 they created bat houses which were later donated to Parks and Rec. Later, Ryan and his wife Molly, an Occupational Therapist, partnered with the Valley Makers Association to provide a quarterly Sensory Friendly Nights at the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester. This project drew Ryan’s attention to new ways makers could use their skills to help people with disabilities. Soon after, Ryan and Molly created a partnership with Valley Health to create custom assistive devices. It was through this project that Ryan became aware of how assistive tech that could be made affordably through open source designs like those found in the Makers Making Change’s Project Library.
Introducing the Winchester Virginia Chapter of Makers Making Change
The Valley Makers Association recently acquired a new space is in the process of renovating. Above are some artist renderings of the vision for the interior of their space. They plan to use their affiliation with the Makers Making Change project to gather some local community support.
Ryan explains why he started a chapter of Makers Making Change in Winchester Virginia :
“This seems like an obvious partnership to me; I help lead our local maker movement in Winchester..my wife (Molly) is a pediatric Occupational Therapist at our local hospital.. we have the opportunity to build a thriving Makers Making Change Chapter!”
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 www.makersmakingchange.com, 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.
Growing the Winchester Virginia Chapter
The Firefly Cafe venue is fitting for the Makers Making Change cause; the venue is run by NW Works, an organization that “serves the Northern Shenandoah Valley by providing vocational training and employment opportunities to over 200 individuals with disabilities annually.” The cafe is staffed and operated by individuals with disabilities learning workforce skills.
At the event on December 6 2019, around 20 participants built over 20 rain drop switches.
The switches were donated to Valley Health Pediatrics clinic to replace their broken switches used in therapy. Switches will be donated to patients of the clinic who are in need.
Thanks to the Firefly Cafe for the appetizers and desserts for event participants!
Other Progress in the Community :
Ryan recently hosted a two presentations introducing Makers Making Change to Occupational Therapy students at Shenandoah University. As a result several students signed up! Ryan has met with several local organizations such as the Access Independence, ARC of Northern Shenandoah Valley, Winchester Public Schools, and the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services. By ensuring these organizations are aware of and understand Makers Making Change, Ryan hopes that these groups will act as a force multiplier in spreading the word.
What’s next for Makers Making Change in Winchester Virginia?
Ryan hopes to connect with larger organizations that could benefit from the MMC adaptive technology library. Places like colleges, school systems, or government facilities who could benefit from a large quantity of items.
The Winchester Chapter has 20 members currently and they are always looking for more!
About the Chapters Program
Makers Making Change aims to have a chapter in every province and state by 2030. As of March 25 2020, we currently have 20 chapters and about to onboarding 10 more!
To become a Chapter Leader(dedicated volunteer role)or be a Community Champion(casual volunteer role) please read more here: Start a Chapter
Join Makers Making Change!
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
Are you a Disability Professional?
- Sign up for www.makersmakingchange.com and mailing list to get invited to training events!
- Request a device from our Project Library and leave a review
- Print some Makers Making Change pamphlets for your clinic or office
- Become a Community Champion or Chapter Leader
Sign up now!
- Go to www.makersmakingchange.com 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’ to receive our communications
- 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!