Engineering students start year-long project to help a family affected by Christianson syndrome

Four students received information needed to begin their prototype of a modified seatbelt, to help with transportation, for Engineering Design and Development class

Sammie Volkamer, JAG editor in chief

Four students in Engineering Design and Development began their year-long project Friday, Nov. 15. Students in this class are required to choose a problem in the world that interests them and find a solution for it.

Seniors Alex Heinking, Brett Bellmyer, Nathan Greenfield and Nolan Leininger met with Ty Hayden, a senior at Olathe West who has Christanson syndrome, and his family. Christianson syndrome is a rare genetic disorder affecting less than 30 people.To help the Hayden family, the group of students hope to create a modified seat belt that will help Ty’s parents, Dave and Amy Hayden, with transportation. 

“We’re designing basically a harness for people with special needs and specifically what Ty has, Christianson’s syndrome, to make it so their traveling in a car is safe and comfortable,” Greenfield said.

Amy believes the harness will have a great impact on her family’s daily life. 

“We’re super excited about this; we’re extremely blessed,” Amy said. “It’ll make car rides so much easier. I think it’ll make life for us easier.”

With help from engineering teacher Gayle Kebodeaux, Greenfield and the rest of the group chose to do this project to positively affect the special needs community.

“Kebodaux told us about the Hadens’ and the problem that they have and said ‘this is a real problem and I think it can make an impact on a lot of people if you guys just take this project,’” Greenfield said. “It just aligned that the four of us were kind of interested in this because we think this can make a difference in people’s lives.”

According to Dave, there is a great need for the harness the students are creating because of the limited options that are available.

“We were using the apparatus we have [had] since he was a kid; it’s very limited. There’s not a lot of options out there. There’s limitations to the way that cars are set up,” Dave said. “Car seats are perfect, but when you get to be an adult size car seats don’t work. So this is the next step, best thing for it.”

Greenfield feels excited about where his group’s project can go and knows their time spent working will be worthwhile.

“Every step of this project has been pretty rewarding, and I’m really looking forward to getting an actual solution out there. We get to show the impact that four seniors in high school can make in people’s lives,” Greenfield said. “I think this has the potential to really be revolutionary for Ty and his family. The most important thing is it’s a peace of mind for them to be able to drive around and not have to worry if Ty safe in the back seat”

The Hayden family will be back to meet with Heinking, Bellmyer, Greenfield and Leininger in January when they hope to have a prototype made.

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