- Tell us about the team behind your project.
"Shona McDonald whose own daughter inspired Shonaquip’s original design solutions, drives the passion and vision as founder and Director of Shonaquip. Industrial designer Guillaume du Toit guides and informs design, and co-ordinates the development of new devices, through feedback from users in the field and input from therapists and clinical professionals together with Daniel Martin, Shonaquip’s engineer. Shonaquip clinical seating therapist and technical rehabilitation practitioners work closely with Shona and Elsje Sheffler a world renowned seating specialist who inform and advise our product development based on years of clinical expertise and their involvement in the World Health Organisations Guideline development and training development process. "
- How does your project use design?
"The purpose of our Social Enterprise is to facilitate and ensure the successful inclusion and improved quality of life of children with mobility disabilities. To achieve this we work with the users, their families and the rehabilitation professionals who support them to design wheelchairs and seating supports as well as the models of accessible support services that ensure that each child has the opportunity to be included in their family, the education system , their community and one day broader society. This starts with finding ways to work with multiple partners and Governments to reach out into the most neglected and under served areas of South Africa through our mobility clinics. Taking the valuable data collected from therapists and field, we look at the needs of the users and then work towards finding solutions that can help the majority of these users, while balancing the practicalities of manufacturing and production in order supply cost-effective devices. Our in-house design department co-ordinates product development from research to concept through prototyping, testing and on to the production and quality control of the devices. Through the design process we are able to create innovative solutions to ensure that the devices we produce reduce and prevent the development of secondary health complications, improve each users function and are appropriate for the challenging rural and peri urban environments we enjoy in South Africa. We have recently built on and evolved our range of mobility devices in such a way that they are modular and interchangeable along with improving usability for seating and the ability to fold them up for transportation. They can also be flat packed and used for off site and remote assembly by partner organisations working in other under resourced regions of Africa. "
- What impact can your project have on people's lives?
"Research shows that over 5 million children and young adults across the SADC region need an appropriate well-fitting wheelchair but they don’t have one. All children who cannot walk will develop spinal deformities when they are not provided with an appropriate well fitted wheelchair. Getting the help you need for your child when you are a parent of a child with physical disabilities is very difficult. Parents often have to travel long distances to attend government or donor funded wheelchair facilities and public transport is both expensive and inaccessible for wheelchair users. Significant gaps exist between Government health policy, disability rights policy, available budgets for equipment and the delivery of support services. These barriers results in exclusion of wheelchair users who have the most complex needs, particularly when they are living in inaccessible and rural areas. The design of our seating and mobility solutions together with the design of our outreach wheelchair seating clinic model ensure that people with mobility disabilities not only receive the right equipment that is correctly fitted, followed up and maintained, but have direct access to onsite mentoring and skills development training. With access to support close to where they live, risk of developing spinal deformities, pressure sores and lung disease is greatly reduced. Unnecessary medical expenses for the family, the health system are incurred and there is improved opportunity for wheelchair users to lead more independent and fulfilling lives "
- When and where does your project take place?
"Shonaquip is an award-winning social enterprise, operationally based in Plumstead, Cape Town, with our production facility a few minutes away in Wynberg. Visits to our factory and community outreach projects can be scheduled to learn more about the work that we do. We will be showcasing our devices and the impact our work makes at different exhibitions and events during 2014. These displays will include a range of our products, the design process and how our innovation changes the lives or the children who use them . On January 29th we were invited to showcase our new award winning designs at the Inclusive Healthcare Innovation Summit, held at the Pavilion Conference Centre in the V&A Waterfront by the Graduate School of Business . Our Madiba2Go the latest model of our flagship product will be exhibited at the Design Indaba 'Africa Now' Exhibition which showcases the best of creativity, design and Innovation in Africa. The Design Indaba is taking place from the 28th Feb to 2nd March. The Object House, #321, is hosting 'In Development' which seeks to unpack the intricate and complex process of product innovation by showcasing the development process of a number of different products. More information and event times will be made available through the Object House. "
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