What’s Working: Students making prosthetic limbs for amputees

What's Working

CHICKASAW, Ala. (WKRG) — In tonight’s What’s Working, one of the coolest programs we’ve seen at a local school! Students at Chickasaw Middle/High School are making prosthetic limbs for amputees in Honduras. It’s called the Prosthetic Project.

Manufacturing teacher, Brian Copes, brought the Prosthetic Project to CHS this year. It’s actually part of an after-school club called Lifechangers. The children make the prosthetics with a 3D printer. They have made nine legs so far.

“This project is not just about building my students, but building my students as they are changing people’s lives. What I am trying to teach them is critical thinking and problem solving which goes in different directions. If they choose to pursue a career in engineering, they are set up for it really nice,” Copes said.

Students like Benjamin Cruz describe the prosthetic project as an amazing opportunity. He also says the project is personal to him.

“My family is Honduran. I have heard experiences that I would never want to go through. Seeing how I can help a person, even one person, it’s beautiful really,” Cruz said.

The students hope to travel to Honduras once Covid restrictions are lifted.

Elizabeth Nelson, the Career Coach with Chickasaw City Schools, sent WKRG more information about the Prosthetic Project. Read it in its entirety to learn how the project is providing the students with many opportunities.

“Chickasaw City Schools has implemented amazing, life-changing projects this school year. One of them is our 3D prosthetic leg project. Students are partnering with Dr. Albert Allen, “Lord of Crofton”, to change lives throughout Latin America by way of this project. Statistics reveal that 80% of all amputees live in developing countries. Many working-class citizens in these countries are fortunate to earn five dollars a day, with modern prosthetic legs costing ten to sixty thousand dollars, making them unattainable for most amputees around the world.

Mr. Copes’ Manufacturing class has been tasked to make a difference by developing an inexpensive prosthesis that will change the lives of many amputees throughout Latin America. This project has developed into a school-wide initiative. Students from all disciplines will join in the task by creating a real not-for-profit business that will manufacture Life Changing prosthetics. Students will take vital roles such as Vice President, HR, Quality Control, Production, etc. in the development of their business. By structuring the project this way, students with interests other than manufacturing will have an opportunity to gain experience, build their resumes, and change lives.

During this project the students will learn about state-of-the-art additive manufacturing techniques as they 3/D print 40 prosthetic legs on the Markfroged Mark II printer. Once COVID Travel restrictions have been lifted these talented students will travel with Dr. Allen and Mr. Copes to Latin America to fit amputees. While on these trips the students will take the role of teachers, and will teach individuals in Latin America not only how to fit amputees, but to aid in the amputees rehabilitation as they learn to walk with their new prosthesis.

While the mission of this project is to change the lives in a community in Latin America, it is also our goal to change the lives of our students in Chickasaw. Many of our funny, talented young people have grown up in generations of poverty. By offering opportunities to see things in other parts of the world, we are offering a perspective change. Poverty in Chickasaw is much different than poverty in the country we will be serving. By offering this perspective change our students will have new eyes to see just how many opportunities they actually have, and a new hunger to take advantage of them.”

Elizabeth Nelson, Career Coach, Chickasaw City Schools

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