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Lending a hand

For the first time in his life, teacher Nick Sissakis recently was able to pick something up with his right hand. Nick, a 39-year old father of two, was born without a right hand. He had never pursued getting a prosthetic hand because of the high cost that was not covered by his insurance.

Fortunately, he visited the San Diego Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs’ Innovation Lab. While taking a tour, he met nine-year old Calramon Malbalot and other members of the active “maker” community who meet there, work on projects and take classes in 3D printing and computer programming.

Calramon and other members of the Library’s Lend A Hand Club realized they could produce a functional hand for Nick for free with the help of Library staff and using Library equipment and resources. They used the Lab’s 3D scanner to take precise measurements of Nick’s arm, modeling software to design the hand and 3D printers to produce the parts.

After a few prototypes, the Club delivered a hand Nick uses to grasp and pick up objects. “When I picked up a water bottle, it was the first time I ever picked up something with the hand,” Nick said. “The rush of emotions was amazing.”

Calramon said he learned a lot from the experience. “It made feel great because we used synergy—the process of cooperation,” he said.

The success of the Central Library’s Innovation Lab is serving as a model for providing technology resources in other Library locations. Additional support is needed to expand these services and bring them to additional communities.

Watch an ABC World New story HERE and an NBC7 San Diego story HERE.