Civic News

Here’s a chance to apply for a device that can help your child navigate a disability

The What I Wish for My Child campaign is the IMAGE Center of Maryland’s latest way of offering children and young adults with special needs the opportunity, via a free medical device, to live more independently.

Young Caleb receives a custom wheelchair lacrosse stick designed by Volunteer Engineer John Haug.

(Courtesy photo)

For the last four decades, the Towson-based IMAGE Center of Maryland‘s Volunteers for Medical Engineering program has been working to empower people with disabilities. Now, applications are open for people to obtain life-changing, custom-made devices and solutions for their children.

The What I Wish for My Child campaign offers a handful of recipients the chance to receive a free custom device that could help their children better navigate developmental or cognitive challenges. Family members, caregivers and teachers can submit an application for a two- to 21-year-old child with special needs. Up to three applicants will be selected to participate in the program free of charge, while additional ones may get invited to participate for a minimal cost. A group of volunteers — including engineering students from 11 colleges and universities, as well as engineering and medical professionals — then collaborate to design and construct a device that addresses the intended recipient’s specific circumstances.

“When the engineers create a device, it can be life-changing,” Volunteers for Medical Engineering’s program director Angela Tyler told Technical.ly. “It can change how children operate in school — for example, specialized desks. It can change the way they get up and get dressed in the morning. [It can change] transferring from one place to another, like from a wheelchair to another place. It definitely can make their lives a lot easier, and the biggest thing is [to] make it more enjoyable.”

Projects completed via the What I Wish for My Child campaign also qualify for assistance under the Developmental Disabilities Administration’s Low Intensity Support Services program.

The engineers developing the devices can include students at universities doing a capstone, high school students in a STEM program or a volunteer engineer that wants to give back using their own lab’s resources.

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Those interested can apply before the June 3rd deadline on the campaign’s website, as well as learn more through this video:


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-
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