With their mini-entreprise, the students of Étienne Oehmichen High School, located in Châlons-en-Champagne, France, developed a handlebar that would make using a bike easier for people who have lost the use of a hand or an arm.
“We could have made keychains and earned money, but we preferred to do something useful, and so we’re taking it on!” Clément Henneville, the CEO of Bike4II, may be young, but he is already determined. Bike4II is the mini-entreprise created at Étienne Oehmichen High School by fifteen first-years and one second-year in the “skilled factory technician” track of the technical school.
Their invention: an adaptable handlebar for people who have lost use of an arm or a hand. “The idea came from a friend who once saw a man with an amputated hand riding a bike. We said to ourselves, hey, why not make a handlebar so that people like him can ride a bike more easily?” explains Clément. The handlebar attaches to all types of bikes and comes off easily. It can also be adjusted for both right-handed and left-handed riders.
To develop the handlebar, the students benefited from the help of health professionals, such as a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, and the APF, the French Association for the Paralyzed. Once the prototype was engineered, they tested it with the help of patients at the Fagnières Institute for Mobility Education. “A little girl who hadn’t ridden a bike in several months was able to do so again using our invention. That was very moving for us, and she was very happy. We are very proud,” remembers Clément.
This touching reward led to several others: Bike 4II received the Innovation Prize at the Regional Championship of Mini-Enterprises, as well as the Mobility Prize at the National Championship. “The project allowed them to acquire professional skills,” says Agnès Guyot, one of the teachers who accompanied them. “But look at the human side behind the invention, it is that which really motivated them!” So much so that the high schoolers are already planning another mini-enterprise for next year, creating a new invention to make mobility easier for handicapped persons.
What inventions would you like to see developed to increase mobility for those with disabilities? Share your thoughts in the comments area below.
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images courtesy of Bike4II. Data linked to sources.