A Metal Puppet Hand School Project Turns Into Something Amazing!

Inspiring |

A white South African carpenter stumbled upon an extraordinary invention while trying to better his life and not accept the circumstances. Richard van As lost four fingers on his right hand from a woodworking accident. Trying to make a positive out of this negative and disarming situation Richard decided to create a hand that would replace his lost extremities. It took him two years of research, and many hours of meticulous workmanship to become the sole inventor of the prosthetic RoboHand. This invention has touched many lives, including that of little Ethan.

Ethan was born with a deformed left hand. He suffered from bullies, and whispered words under fellow school kids breaths. One day Ethan asked his mom if there were any other kids like him out there. His mom went online and found a video that had recently been posted by research scientist and professor John Schull who decided to take the idea of Richard Van As and his collaborating American partner Ivan Owen and make it a viral community effort. John came up with the idea to make an online map where someone in need of a prosthetic hand could drop a 'pin' to their location in order to locate the closest volunteer who had access to a hand for a child in need. By the end of the first day, 7 pins were located in the Google group, and by the end of the week there were hundreds and still growing. Schull's small, simple idea grew into what is known today as Enable, which is a nonprofit organization and community that's made up of people from all walks of life: coders, designers, children, artists, teachers, inventors, engineers, doctors, scientists, philanthropists, and parents.It is a network of people creating 3D-printed hands and arms for those in need for FREE.

Today Ethan is smiling on the school yard, keeping up with his fellow classmates, and feeling inspired and not so different anymore. His mom was quoted saying when they go to the store Ethan can't help but beam and wave at the passersby. Ethan's story is made possible just by the sheer ingenuity of these three men, Richard Van As, Ivan Owen, and John Schull. Together and separate they united forces and collaborated in ultimately helping hands help each other! May their rewards be great on earth with success story after success story and may their legacy live on and inspire others to never give up hope, because where there is humanity there is also love. 

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Edward Arroyo


Edward attended college at Northwestern University where he received his bachelors in journalism. After graduation he spent the next several years traveling the world writing about his experiences on his own personal blog. His hobbies include travel, photography, bicycling and hanging out with his dog Milo.