About the wheelchairs
A mechanical engineer and inventor by trade, Don Schoendorfer is a Columbia University graduate with a Ph.D. from MIT, working in the biomedical field and responsible for a string of over 50 U.S. patents. Don began researching the global dilemma of disability in developing countries. Soon thereafter, he developed a durable, safe, inexpensive wheelchair, and eventually walked away from a successful career to found the nonprofit organization Free Wheelchair Mission.
GEN 1 Design
In developing the wheelchair, Don’s goal was to come up with a basic design at an extremely low cost so as to reach the highest number of disabled impoverished people in the shortest possible amount of time.
Rather than starting with custom-made components, Don put together a wheelchair using elements already in existence, ingredients currently in manufacture, and parts already being produced, all preferably in high volume – by using this approach, he was able to generate an extraordinarily low cost in gathering wheelchair components.
Especially designed for use in the rugged terrain of rural and under-resourced areas, the FWM wheelchair combines the durability of a resin lawn chair with the strength of a custom steel frame, all tucked into a sturdy pair of mountain bike tires. A recent academic study has shown the wheelchair to be safe and beneficial to users, providing not just mobility, but improved health and quality of life.
GEN 2 Design
Free Wheelchair Mission’s newest evolution of design, the GEN_2, is a highly adaptable, all-purpose wheelchair created for use in developing countries, while allowing for a healthy, personalized fit.
Available in several widths and designed to accommodate a variety of users, the GEN_2 is particularly well-suited for children and recipients with special medical needs. Intended to complement the current program, the GEN_2 successfully passed ISO standards of certification and can be manufactured, shipped and distributed at an economical price point. A careful roll-out and early field testing has resulted in great success for the GEN_2, Free Wheelchair Mission’s latest approach to the dilemma of global disability.
(Taken from Free Wheelchair Mission’s website.)