CAL Staff Member Donna Fox Talks About Her Design The Future Experience

CAL Staff Member Donna Fox Talks About Her Design The Future Experience

Donna shows off new helping device.

Recently, I had the opportunity to be a part of the Design the Future program.  Design the Future is a week long, design thinking summer program for rising 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th graders.  During this intensive program, created by DC Design, students work to design and manufacture solutions to real problems faced by individuals with physical disabilities.

I was not sure what I was getting myself into and had wondered why I was willing the take the time out of my busy schedule to be a part of this program.  But from the time I walked into the classroom at the University of Louisville on the first day until I walked out of the classroom on the last day, I was so glad that I made the choice to be a part of this program.  My team consisted of four students from various schools in Jefferson County and each of them came into the program with the same amount of uncertainty that I did.  However, after our initial meeting, I knew that I had made the right choice. 
The students were curious and eager to learn about me, my arthritis, my limitations, and to learn what they can do to help me in my daily living.  After only a few hours the students had come up with several ideas based upon the conversations I had with them.

One of the tasks that I explained to them that was a real issue for me was a simple one for anyone without a physical disability that involves range of motion.  Because of the severity of the arthritis in my feet I often wear boots that lace up and zip up.  I often say that people with physical disabilities are often the most creative people on the planet because they have to find ways that work for them in their daily living.  For me, one of the obstacles that I was met with on a daily occasion was unzipping my boots to get them off.  I had dressing sticks and other assistive devices that I can zip the boots up with but nothing seemed to work when it came to unzipping.  My team of four went to work and after a bit of trial and error eventually designed a product that would work for me. 

I must say that I really enjoyed my time with the program and educating young people about the trials and tribulations of a person with a physical disability like myself.  I actually think I learned as much from the students as they learned from me.