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BYU students create stroller for adults with special needs

By Braley Dodson daily Herald - | Mar 31, 2016
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Brigham Young University mechanical engineering student Cheryl Woo (middle, left) rides around in a finished product of a mechanized chair created for McKay Mitton, who has cerebral palsy, during a media demo on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help people like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Todd Mitton, left, looks on as McKay Mitton, center, sits in a finished product of a mechanized chair on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help people like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Todd Mitton runs around as McKay Mitton sits in a finished product of a mechanized chair during a demo for media and project members on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help people like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Todd Mitton, left, his son McCkay, second left, and Allison look towards BYU student Grant Getts during the unveiling of a finished product of a mechanized chair on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help people like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Allison Mitton listens to BYU students during the unveiling of a finished product of a mechanized chair on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help elope like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Brigham Young University mechanical engineering student Cheryl Woo, left, rides around in a finished product of a mechanized chair created for McKay Mitton, who has cerebral palsy, during a media demo on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help people like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Brigham Young University mechanical engineering student Cheryl Woo, left, rides around in a finished product of a mechanized chair created for McKay Mitton, who has cerebral palsy, during a media demo on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help people like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

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Todd Mitton, left, his son McCkay and Allison share a moment during the unveiling of a finished product of a mechanized chair on Thursday, March 31, 2016 at BYU in Provo. The program brought students together to build a chair that would help people like McKay be more mobile. DOMINIC VALENTE, Daily Herald

The Mitton family has plans to ride their bikes down to a shopping area and get ice cream with their 18-year-old son, McKay, by converting the bike trailer he would ride in into a jogging stroller. It is a simple idea, but it is an activity the family hasn’t been able to do since McKay, who was born with cerebral palsy, outgrew his child-size bike trailer and jogger years ago.

But soon, they all will be able to bike or jog again, thanks to an adult-sized stroller and bike trailer created by a group of engineering students at Brigham Young University.

“Usually when he’s in there, he smiles,” Allison Mitton, McKay’s mother said. “He grins from ear to ear.”

The Mitton triplets were born three months premature. McKay and Alex, who died in 2014, were born with cerebral palsy and Abby, who now attends BYU, was not. The family enjoys spending time outside, but the only product similar to the ones the students bought cost around $5,000.

The project, built by Motion Source, a group of six students, was on display Thursday in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU.

The stroller is easily pushed by one person and turns quickly.

“People who have children with special needs want to do everything that everybody else does,” Allison Mitton said.

The project had to be open source, which means any family can build it in their garage without engineering knowledge of heavy equipment.

“The open source was a whole other level of difficulty,” said Matthew Curtis, a team member.

Because it had to be easily built by others, the team wasn’t able to replicate designs for similar products already on the market. The project took eight months to build and can be made for between $500 and $700.

“In reality, there isn’t anything exactly like it,” said Cheryl Woo, a team member. “There is nothing we can compare it to.”

The designs will be available in the future, and the students hope that others continue to build and improve it.

For the Mittons, that means that other families might soon rediscover the outdoor activities they enjoy.

“What we try to focus on is to not get down or upset about the things we can’t do, but to do absolutely everything we can,” Allison Mitton said. “That’s what brings us joy.”

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