We take 227,000 tons of "trash" every year and turn it into opportunity and independence for thousands of people with disabilities.
By recycling wheelchairs and other mobility aids, we reduce the amount of non-biodegradable material taking up space in our country’s landfills. What we collect is not your typical trash, either. It’s high-quality equipment - it just no longer meets the needs of the person it was built for. The average wheelchair we receive costs $3,000 or more in the United States. We rebuild each wheelchair to meet industry standards - and then pass it on to another person who greatly needs a high-quality wheelchair but could never afford one otherwise.
We also design and manufacture low-cost wheelchairs that are built for the context of the countries we work in.
Since most wheelchairs are designed and manufactured for the developed-world market, the cost and functionality do not meet the needs of individuals in developing countries. Our wheelchairs and accessories have easily replaceable parts, are adjustable to meet a wide variety of sizes and needs, and are built to endure unpaved roads, humid temperatures and inaccessible spaces. And because we are able to cut out middle-men and complicated funding systems, we can dramatically reduce the cost of products.
When it comes to wheelchairs, fit matters. Most wheelchair users spend 8-10 hours per day in their wheelchair.
A properly fitting wheelchair helps a person feel more comfortable, breathe and eat easier, and interact more with his or her environment. It can also reduce deformities and contractures, and safeguard against skin breakdown caused by prolonged pressure or friction. Small pressure sores can develop into life threatening infections and are the number one reason for death among wheelchair users.
Pressure sores, and the life-threatening infections they cause, can be avoided with the proper equipment, like a pressure relieving cushion that can cost as little as $10.
There are many types of wheelchairs out there, with many accessories. Choosing the appropriate wheelchair for each individual and fitting that wheelchair to the individual’s particular need requires professional training and experience.
We recruit expert volunteers to join us at our wheelchair clinics around the world to ensure that every individual we serve is paired up with the right wheelchair, with the right fit.
Our volunteer “seating specialists” are professional assistive technology providers and physical or occupational therapists in the United States who work with wheelchairs for a living but choose to spend their vacations helping us at one- or two-week long wheelchair clinics all over the world. At each of these seating clinics we work closely with local partners where we provide an average of 175 wheelchairs to children, teens, and adults within the community. We have longstanding partnerships in places that we visit year after year to ensure continued service and partner development.
We train our partners around the world on the clinical service of wheelchair provision. Our training is consistent with WHO standards and allows us to develop sustainable systems for provision.
Children grow, posture changes over time, and wear and tear on equipment requires maintenance. That’s why we provide standardized wheelchair service courses and tailor-made training to our in-country partners, to create sustainable systems for wheelchair provision. The relationship between the wheelchair user and the provider should be an enduring one. By building the capacities of local professionals we help ensure this is possible.