For the past two years, Valuable 500 member Jardine Motors Group, has supported its charity partner, Whizz-Kidz, with their ‘Wheels of Change’ project which aims to reimagine the wheelchair. Speaking with Whizz-Kidz CEO Ruth Owen, she explains the purpose and ambition of this innovative project.
"We basically wanted to revolutionise the concept of what a wheelchair is and what it can do. Nothing has really changed in chair design for more than 40 years. Can you imagine the type of cars we’d be driving today if that was the case for auto mobility? So why should wheelchairs be any different? We listened to young people who highlighted they have more tech on their phones. The car manufacturers have found a way to integrate this tech into their vehicles, so our vision with the Wheelchair of the Future project, is to look at how we can replicate this approach to make a better, more connected experience for all wheelchair users.”
Jardine Motors Group has used its connections to help Whizz-Kidz find partners to deliver the project, as Commercial Director Jason Cranswick explains.
“We’ve been partners with Whizz-Kidz for nearly six years. The charity fits brilliantly with our colleagues and our culture to be an inclusive business that offers mobility solutions for all. Our support for Whizz-Kidz goes far beyond fundraising, to include providing work placements and supporting employability skills development in young wheelchair users, so supporting Ruth and her team to help make this project a reality was something we felt very passionately about. As a connected dealer with access to innovation thinkers, technology and system design companies as well as manufacturers, we took on the role of helping Whizz-Kidz to find partners to help deliver this project and we can’t wait to see the outcome.”
The project has undergone numerous innovation sprints and now 12 key areas of design criteria have been identified. The next stage is to create the first prototype, which Ruth hopes will happen in 2020.
The project is a partnership between Whizz-Kidz, Duchenne UK and the University of Edinburgh and was made possible thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery, which provided a £1 million grant through the Dream Fund Initiative.