by Nicole Hackett, Student Public Relations Writer
Connor Hart, a Cedarville freshman mechanical engineering major from Loveland, Ohio, founded The Hands of Hope Foundation, in August 2018. The Hands of Hope Foundation is a nonprofit that empowers children with a limb difference by providing them with free 3D-printed prosthetics.
“Prosthetics do not solve the problem of missing a hand, but they do help to empower children to have a more confident view of themselves ,” said Hart.
Hands of Hope started in September 2015 when Hart and three classmates at Milford High School in Milford, Ohio, volunteered to create a 3D-printed prosthetic for Hope McGill, a 7-year-old girl from the community missing her left arm from the elbow down.
“Hope was adopted from China. She had been taught from an early age to hide her arm, making her self-conscious about it. Because of the prosthetic, Hope became more confident in her little arm," noted Catherine McGill, Hope’s older sister and a Cedarville sophomore professional writing and information design major.
Hands of Hope became a club at Milford High School and made prosthetics for three other children. However, in the spring of 2018, Milford High School decided to drop Hands of Hope as an extracurricular due to a lack of interest from the student body. Not wanting to see the organization dissolved, Hart transformed Hands of Hope into an official nonprofit and invited Catherine McGill to serve as the Foundation’s media director.
Hart and Catherine McGill created The Hands of Hope Foundation’s chapter on Cedarville University’s campus. This was made possible by Cedarville’s school of engineering and computer science.
“Connor went the extra mile by sending me an email over the summer just prior to coming to campus for his freshman fall semester,” said Robert Chasnov, dean of the school of engineering and computer science and senior professor of engineering. “He needed a space for the 3D printers he uses to manufacture the hands his team would be designing. Since we had a project lab that was being used primarily to store mobile test equipment, I set him up in that space and gave his student team card-key access to that project lab.”
Hart’s team is currently working on raising funds and building a training program for Cedarville students to learn how to create custom prosthetics. Even though 3D-printing custom prosthetics is common in the biomedical community, there is no official training. Hart and McGill hope their pilot training will become an official program that can be replicated by others.
“What I love most about working for Hands of Hope is knowing I am positively impacting the lives of both our clients and volunteers,” expressed Hart. “Knowing I provided joy to someone else with no strings attached is what keeps me smiling and driven toward giving others the same opportunities I have been given.”
Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 4,193 undergraduate, graduate and online students in more than 150 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, strong graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings and leading student satisfaction ratings. For more information about the University, visit www.cedarville.edu.