‘Gizmos’ for helping people

Jim Stone likes to call the devices he makes “gizmos.” The unique creations help improve the quality of life and independence of people with disabilities

Jim Stone likes to call the devices he makes “gizmos.”

The unique creations help improve the quality of life and independence of people with disabilities.

In the past, the retired Olds College instructor has created a call device for a man with multiple sclerosis, who couldn’t talk or move his hands, that enabled him to push a switch device to receive help.

He also created a large crib for an older child that helped the child’s caregivers provide better care.

Stone, who used to teach on the mechanical side at Olds College, is one of three volunteers in Central Alberta who make the specially designed items as part of the Red Deer chapter of the Tetra Society.

The society started close to two decades ago when Sam Sullivan, who is a quadriplegic and former mayor of Vancouver, founded it to help him create the devices he needed to ensure his independence. The Red Deer chapter of the organization began in 2000.

Stone recently took over as the local Tetra Society co-ordinator, which covers Red Deer and the rest of Central Alberta.

He is looking for more people who need help and also more volunteers with carpentry or mechanical skills who can help them.

Stone said each gadget is unique because each person’s need is unique.

Volunteers meet with individuals to discuss what they need and then design the item and build it from scratch.

Generally there are government, grant or assistance programs that help pay for the cost of materials, with volunteers offering their time and skills to create and build the special devices.

Sometimes the gadgets can be as simple as adding a cupholder to a wheelchair, but in all of the cases the gizmos are things that people can’t buy in a store.

Stone keeps sharing his skills as a volunteer because he knows what it means to the people he has helped.

After setting up the specially designed crib for an older child, who wasn’t able to speak, Stone asked him, “Are you ready?”

He said the child’s smile lit up the room.

“Those are the kind of things that are more important than most of the things in life,” Stone said.

Anyone wanting to volunteer or who wants to learn more about the Tetra Society can send an e-mail to jstone05@telus.net or phone 403-438-0172.


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