Making a difference

Stacey Chrispie with a team of ‘makers’ at last year’s TOM.

TIKKUN Olam Makers (TOM) is returning to Australia for a second year, bringing together members of the community to use knowledge and technology in order to address the real life needs of people with disabilities.

Spearheaded by Debbie Dadon and the Israel Trade Commission in partnership with Swinburne University of Technology and Flying Fox, the event will be held in Melbourne from December 1-3, 2017.

A 72 hour “makeathon” will see the development of hardware and software product prototypes by uniting people who understand the needs of those with disabilities – the “need-knowers” – with engineers, designers and developers – the “makers”. At their fingertips, the makers will have access to state-of-the-art technology, including 3D printers, laser cutters, fabrication tools and electronics, turning dreams into reality.

The collaboration provides the opportunity for innovation and prototyping to create affordable solutions for the currently unmet needs of people with disabilities.

While the first Australian TOM Makeathon was held in November last year, the success was experienced worldwide, as designs are shared within the global TOM network.

Project manager Kylie Appel told The AJN, “We are currently seeking … people who have a personal understanding of living with a disability, to take part in the event, [and] calling on all designers, developers, engineers and anyone who loves creating to use their skills for good and make a positive impact,” said Appel.

Among those who have benefitted from TOM is Stacey Chrispie who has muscular dystrophy and is dependent on a wheelchair. Last year her life changed when a team of TOM makers created a portable wedge ramp to meet her needs. The gold-painted ramp enables her power wheelchair to safely mobilise a step or curb so that she can independently navigate her wheelchair and fulfil her dream of travel.

“With the combination of science, engineering and design, it’s rewarding to witness “makers” understand the challenge, and then work collaboratively with their “need-knower” to provide a real life solution,” enthused Dadon.

TOM is based on the Jewish concept of “tikkun olam”, which translates as “acts of kindness that repair the world”. The TOM Makers movement attempts to do this by delivering positive impact to those living with unique disabilities, acknowledging that one size does not fit all.

To register as a “maker” or “need-knower” for the TOM Makeathon 2017, visit Applications close September 22.